Already, we’ve heard repeatedly that King Charles III wants his coronation to be a less stuffy occasion, with fewer robes and a shorter ceremony. I’ve made the point that it’s not like the Windsors have to buy all new crap for the coronation – they already have all of the gold carriages, stolen jewels and gold swords. All they have to do is dust that sh-t off. Then I started reading this Telegraph piece about “how the culture wars could affect the coronation” and I found it grotesquely fascinating. There is just so much stolen treasure, ivory, ermine and priceless orbs and maces involved with any given coronation. So it’s a matter of choosing the least offensive pieces, I guess. Some highlights:
Sussex superfans got a shout-out: In an era of social media, where an army of republicans and Sussex superfans stand poised to pick apart the Royal family’s every move, the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla will be as fraught as any before them. On the other side will be traditionalists and historians, aghast at too much caving to a modern world of “wokery”.
Bear traps: “Everyone involved in planning this will be looking out for bear traps,” says a source. “They will be aware of what it all looks like. Anything with deep historical and religious significance will be incorporated, but nothing else is on or off the table.”
Fewer guests & shorter processions: The 8,000 guests, requiring a build of scaffolding which left the Abbey closed for five months in 1953, will be trimmed to around 2,000, drawn from a wider section of society than ever before. The processions will be a little shorter, with a military capability which once saw 40,000 troops over five miles in 1953 reduced.
Queen Consort Camilla: The clever compromise of calling her Queen Consort as the public gets used to a new era will phase out and, by the time they are in the Abbey, Queen Camilla it will be. Having secured that, a Palace veteran suggests, there is little appetite for waging unnecessary wars on other fronts.
Coronation robes: The Coronation robes of peers have already been cut in favour of lounge suits, reducing the fur-to-fabric ratio, but what of the King and Queen’s own Robes of State? Charles could use his grandfather’s and Camilla the Queen Mother’s, winning brownie points for “recycling” them in tact or even replacing ermine with fake fur in a virtuous gesture which may prove more ecological trouble than it’s worth given the original already exists.
Coronation oil?? Similarly the Coronation oil, used to anoint the King, is already made to a recipe including civet – a scented “glandular secretion” from a delicate area of an African cat – and ambergris, the “floating gold” from the stomach of a sperm whale.
So much ivory: The Queen Consort’s sceptre is an ivory rod topped with a decorative dove and the Abbey’s Ivory Cross is carved from a tusk. None can be undone, but all can be criticised by observers with enough energy.
The family placement: And that’s before the King untangles the placement of his family: the Prince of Wales’s young brood, one disgraced sibling and the expected presence of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex who will celebrate their son’s fourth birthday on the same day.
The coronation committee: Ironically, it is the least controversial decision of all which may, in the long run, prove the most important: who is on the Coronation committee? Where the Duke of Edinburgh took a leading role in planning Queen Elizabeth II’s ceremony, Queen Camilla is unlikely to want such a central role. If the Palace has a mind to the long-term preservation of the monarchy, Prince William will be the one to watch.
I do think it’s interesting that Camilla isn’t part of the Coronation Committee and that famously lazy William is part of it. I don’t think any of Charles’s siblings are part of the committee, so it feels notable that William is the only family member there. If the coronation is a disaster, will Peggington get the blame? LOL. As for Camilla’s title…everyone has already called her “Queen Camilla” anyway and the whole thing is just… blah. Either people don’t care or they’re sick about it regardless of the technicalities of her title.
Anyway, the usual rules apply here: whatever Charles is most worried about probably won’t matter much long-term, but whatever Charles is taking for granted will cause him the biggest headache. From this piece, I think it’s safe to say the biggest landmine is the palace’s assumption that Harry and Meghan will be invited and that they’ll choose to go. Does Charles understand THAT will be one of the biggest stories of the next six months? I’m sure people will write about the ivory, ambergris (WTF) and ermine, but there will be wall-to-wall coverage about the Sussexes. Think again about how the 11 days after Queen Elizabeth II’s passing played out, and how much energy was devoted solely to the Sussexes. Same with the Jubbly, same with the Diana-statue unveiling, same with Philip’s funeral and service of thanksgiving. Now make it a coronation narrative.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.