47. LONG LIVE THE KING
So, there he was in all his crowning glory at the age of 74, finally becoming what his whole life was leading up to: King Charles III. A long wait. Abdication in the UK, unless for breach of protocol, has no tradition. For sons of queens, it seems, a long and testing time awaits before they can fulfill their destiny. For Charles it took 70 years - he's fortunate to probably have a few years ahead of him to enjoy - if that's the word - this destiny. He follows in the footsteps of Edward VII, who had spent 60 years as heir to the throne until his mother, Victoria, died in 1901, passing on the baton that Edward held for another nine years.
Pomp and ceremony
Let's be clear about one thing. I am not a royalist, despite being a product of the Duchy of Cornwall and subject of the Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, a title now inherited by the next in line, Prince William. However, along with the millions (billions?) who observed the pomp and ceremony on their TVs around the world, I was struck by the archaism, or rather the juxtaposition of the archaic with the technological that brought this solemn occasion into our living rooms in the finest detail. The pledges in all their awkwardness, the paraphernalia of royal office - the orb, sceptre, crown. I wondered what the place is of all this in the modern world. Just as striking were the arrests of anti-monarchy protesters, a relatively peaceful, and respectful, group that, by all accounts, were pretty roughly treated by the police, no doubt to ensure that this televisual spectacle would not be disrupted in any way, other than the rain that fell.
All night long ...
But I'm not out to get the person Charles. After all, he has been a highly approachable person, with a good feel for humour and the human condition. Rumour has it that he would rather have stripped down all the ceremonial ballast if he had had his way. Not to be. Tradition rules firm in the UK. He appeared rather uncomfortable with it all, and I'm sure that he partied with Lionel Ritchie all night long back home in Buckingham Palace. While Prince Harry beat a hasty retreat after "Long live the king" and proclamations of allegiance broke, on the morning after the night his son and heir, Prince William, and daughter-in-law along with their children did their best to join in the celebrations of the common folk in the street parties that followed. A good time was being had by all.
Choose your Charlie
So, what is the lesson to be learned, if at all? The world is in a state of geopolitical turbulence. War, depravation, natural disasters, climate disintegration and tales of organised and disorganised crime fill the pages of our daily newspapers. This bubble of fantasy breaks that unrelenting monotony of desolation. It lifts the spirit for a brief moment, whether you are for the monarchy or not. I suppose when you look at the alternatives to the regaled Charles, it's not a very welcoming sight. Putin, Trump, Xi, Musk, Bezos, Zuckerberg? Well, coming from a non-royalist, I'd rather have this Bonnie Prince Charlie than any of that lot!- Chris