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Opinion

Pride, pomp, and circumstance

16 Apr 2023 5 minute read
Gold State Coach passes in front of Buckingham Palace Image by Hannah McKay, PA Images

Ben Wildsmith

The opposite of love is indifference, and it would seem that King Charles is feeling its sharpened tooth as a mere 9% of Britons are excited at the prospect of his Coronation.

Here in Wales, where the monarchical footnote has been serving the world’s longest apprenticeship, only four Coronation events have been registered and, I don’t know about you, but I’m yet to hear anyone mention of it at all.

Charles was conceived around the time that India gained its independence, so when his mother ascended to the throne in 1953 there was already a feeling that the jig was up for the international reach of Imperial pomp.

It was slow dying, however, and people could be relied upon to fork out for bunting and Union flag place mats at the Silver Jubilee and Charles’ wedding.

Queen Victoria’s idea that the royals should serve as a model for the nation’s family life still had some currency in 1981.

Here we see an image of children in Bettws being taken for fools by the adulterous prince.

Street party to celebrate Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding on Dart Road, Bettws, image by Margaret McDermott, People’s Collection, Creative Commons Licence

Ceremonial doings

Pageantry, we were told, gave the UK a unique place in the world. Originally, the idea was to show off all the stuff that had been nicked from around the globe as a reminder of who ran the show.

While the empire disappeared the spectacle carried on, at vast expense, as we were assured that it was the prime driver of tourism to the nation.

So, within Charles’ lifetime, the ceremonial doings of his family have devolved from imperial statecraft on the level of a US presidential inauguration, to occasional competition for the Porthcawl Elvis Festival.

It is, therefore, extremely inconvenient that a prominent tourist from Scranton, Pennsylvania seems to have gone to some lengths to give Charles’ celebrations a swerve.

The breathless outrage of GBeebies grifters at President Biden’s no-show is predictably baseless in historical precedent. US presidents do not routinely attend British coronations.

The optics of Biden’s jolly in Ireland, however, do seem to suggest a less than reverent attitude towards the sceptred isle.

For a start-off, Biden’s reason for not attending the Coronation is that he couldn’t face the trip so soon after his visit to Ireland.

I mean, where are his priorities? If you are offered free tickets to the Porthcawl Elvis Festival, you don’t go on a pub crawl in Bridgend the week before and duck out of it.

Anachronistic attitudes

If Biden hadn’t done enough to leave the right-wing press with suspicious minds, his latest flame turned out to be Gerry Adams.

Again, though, there’s nothing new about American presidents Irishing around in the run-up to elections. The Irish-American electorate expects it.

What’s different, though, is that Biden explicitly emphasises his Irish roots and downplays his English ancestry.

This reluctance to identify with England, and by extension Britain, is indicative that the British brand has ceased to be merely tarnished in the international court of opinion and is now toxic.

Anyone who travels will be painfully aware of the pitying giggles that a UK passport elicits around large parts of the world and it’s increasingly worth the time to explain where and what Wales is if someone asks where you are from.

An Irish passport, a few words of Welsh, or Scots can be a get-out-of-jail-free card from being identified with the anachronistic attitudes of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

The Koh-I-Noor diamond will apparently be absent from Queen Mary’s crown when Camilla becomes queen and inherent to that decision is the acknowledgement that the proceedings represent something taboo and publicly unacceptable on the world stage.

For, if the Elizabethan age had a purpose, then it was surely to sever Britain’s future from its imperial past and demonstrate to the world that the country had learned from its misdeeds. Instead, national institutions have clung stubbornly to the accoutrements of empire.

Justifying absurdity

Eddie Izzard once noted that when the world was enthralled by the genius of working-class, British creatives in the 1960s, the Establishment missed a trick.

If the queen had hopped in an E-Type and learned to clap on the offbeat, then the privileged end of society might have been jolted from its torpor and pointed towards a future grounded in reality.

Instead, they doubled down as the world moved past them and are now defended by a shrinking band of elderly obsessives and ‘royal experts’ whose livelihoods depend upon justifying absurdity.

King Charles ordered research into royal links to slavery last week. The world at large, however, made its minds up about the moral qualities of British imperialism long ago and an institution that is supposed to lead is decades behind the international consensus.

When the king dons his coronational jumpsuit and fulfils what he imagines to be his destiny, it will be to disinterest at home and mounting derision abroad.

Not only has the royal ship sailed, it has sunk with international goodwill to the UK onboard.

You can find more of The Shrewd View and the rest of Ben’s writing on Nation.Cymru by following his links on this map


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Jane
Jane
10 months ago

Great article could not agree more.

Chris Jones
Chris Jones
10 months ago

I really enjoyed this article. In Jitterbug Perfume, author Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls get the Blues) imagines a ‘monarchy’ similar (with a difference) to that of the Mongolian Empire (cf.Genghis Kahn). In Robbins’ model of ‘monarchy’ the King is chosen by a deathfight between the two (physically) strongest contestants. The winner is proclaimed Monarch and is allowed to live as long as he is unchallenged by someone physically stronger. He enjoys all the benefits and riches of royalty. The King is allowed to bonk as many ‘concubines’, male, female or otherwise and ‘father’ many children. He is not subject to… Read more »

CapM
CapM
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Jones

There was once a Royal It’s a Knockout so not so far fetched.

Malcolm Jones
Malcolm Jones
10 months ago

When i was in France touring in my campervan i got friendly with a dutch man he advised me too remove my GB badge of the back of the campervan.He said it’s like a Red RAG To A BULL to the French police. ( GREAT BRITAIN. ) JUST THINK ABOUT IT

Malcolm Jones
Malcolm Jones
10 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Jones

What i said is the truth and just think if other countries put that on they’re car’s
Great German great France great Spain great Italy and drove around the United kingdom

Tomi Benn
Tomi Benn
10 months ago

Archbishtwat Justin Welby said in 2013 that the queen was “chosen by God”. That implies that Carlo was “chosen by God” NOT to be King for a very long time and to be imposed on our innocent little nation. It also leads me to think that ‘God’ decided to punish us Cymry by imposing yet another alien as the TITular head of our nation.

CapM
CapM
10 months ago

“….last year’s state funeral of the Queen showed the British establishment retains its ability to organise world-class events “ Well they’d been preparing for decades. Operation London Bridge was originally laid out in the 1960s! Generations of servicemen have practiced being pallbearers, guards of honour, trumpet blowers etc and never had the opportunity to do it for real. Regular updates of the funeral plan over the decades and a coffin that was made at least 30 years before being filled. Citizens of the USA get to see an inauguration every four years so they’ve been able to experience sixteen between the… Read more »

CapM
CapM
10 months ago

Buckets of tears wise Diana was the high point. The bucket count for the Queen was far less. Charles – they’ll have to wring out every Kleenex to get enough to fill a mixing bowl.

Sue
Sue
10 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Hang on, we’ve not even had the Coronation yet. You have at least 15 years to watch him to try and find some major fault. He’s a good bloke, you would find it hard to find a charge against him, unless you want to count his indiscretion

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
10 months ago

The Royals are the same as the English Nationalist Party the Tories they are the establishment that rule the U K which we do not want to be part of.The Royals are Rich and the Rich establishment control the Tory party and the Tories or as i like to call them the English nationalist party have a well oiled Propaganda machine its all about England and only England the Royals and the Tories THE ENGLISH ESTABLISHMENT the Newspapers TORYGRPH DAILY MAIL and EXPRESS the SUN and the TIMES and 2 new additions G B News with its Tory MP,s on… Read more »

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
10 months ago

The Royal Family is long past its sell by date. I expect Charles is secretly selling the rights to dramatisation in the next episode of ‘The Crown’ – that’s about the extent of the interest in the Coronation. But it suits those in the Tory party who are desparate to take us all back to the 19th Century.

Karl
Karl
10 months ago

I remember the outrage of the expectation of the public paying for the Windsor Castle fire. It literally caused the English royals to downgrade their expenses and start paying tax. So please get a reality check. Billions spaffed up the wall each year for no real gain. Diana was sad, because of the media creating her demise. Last year I knew nobody marking that funeral, the circus is over.

Sue
Sue
10 months ago
Reply to  Karl

You know that Windsor Castle is a state building don’t you? It doesn’t belong to the “English Royals”, as you like to put it. But hey, I’ll forgive you for that, though not sure that the Prince of Wales would. The cost of the repairs to the castle was around £36.5 million.
The cost for repairs and restoration was met by charging the public for entry to Windsor Castle, and by opening Buckingham Palace for admission. In addition, Queen Elizabeth contributed £2 million of her own money.

Sorgina
Sorgina
10 months ago

I did not, and do not, give a monkey’s when a parasite’s terrestrial existence is terminated. This applies to fleas, slugs, rats and all the more to leeches of public funds.

Sue
Sue
10 months ago
Reply to  Sorgina

Ah, you must be talking about the massive wastage of Mark Drakeford’s Welsh Government. I can only agree.

Yossarian Dunbar
Yossarian Dunbar
10 months ago

This article came out the blocks with an immediate error. The opposite of love is quite famously hate. The opposite of indifference is concern.

Maybe English oppression is to blame?

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