The coronation of Charles III took place on Saturday 6th May at Westminster Abbey in London. Now a few days have passed since the event, it’s time to reflect on what happened and also, on what the future of the monarchy is in a fractured and increasingly dysfunctional (dis)United Kingdom. There was a lot of hype in the run up to the event. The important question is this – did the populace buy into the hype or are there signs that support for the monarchy is in decline? I’ll do my level best to offer some pointers that may answer this…
What happened where we live
The best place to start answering that question is to take a look at where you live. I live in Keynsham, a town on the River Avon situated between Bristol and Bath. It’s a commuter town, albeit with some pretensions to being a country town. It’s a former industrial town as well. It’s socially mixed with a sizeable working class area to the west of the River Chew with the area east of the river being more affluent and middle class. We live in the north west part of the town between the High Street and the bypass.
Well, the bunting was up in a few places as you would expect. That includes the cafe and pub we frequent. The impression we got was that they felt obliged to go along with sticking up the bunting because it was expected of them as opposed to any genuine enthusiasm for the coronation. What they ended up doing was playing it by ear, dialling things up and down as they saw fit while doing their level best to not offend anyone, royalist or republican. That would be for the entirely pragmatic reason of not wanting to alienate and lose customers!
My plan was to have a walk around Keynsham during the late morning of the Saturday while the coronation was taking place to assess the mood. The West Country weather put paid to that as it was chucking it down with rain and you’d only be out on the streets if you absolutely had to be! By the time the afternoon came round, the rain had eased off so we went for a walk round the local park. The bunting and flags were out around the bandstand in readiness for a coronation party on the Sunday. Other than that it was just like any other Saturday in the park. When we had a post walk drink in our local cafe bar, the bunting was up but the only conversation tangentially related to events were the bar staff discussing whether they’d be busy or quiet on the Sunday.
On the Sunday, we had a walk in the nearby countryside, then had a drink at our local pub on the banks of the Avon. Again, the bunting was up but apart from that, the coronation was pretty much in the background. We were sitting out in the garden enjoying some rare sunshine along with the other drinkers. The only obvious reminder of the coronation was a couple of women decked out in union flag dresses coming in from the coronation party in the nearby park. They did get a few funny looks from some of the drinkers out in the garden:) Obviously we didn’t physically check out the party in the park – there are limits as to how far we’ll go with our research! However, we checked out what happened online and yes, there were a good few hundred people there but it didn’t look as though the attendance went very far into four figures. We suspect that a lot of people went along simply because it was free entertainment:)
Overall, the impression we got from Keynsham, was that the event was marked by those who wanted to do so while the rest of us just got on with our lives as normal. Being old enough to have lived through a number of royal jubilees and weddings, compared to these, the atmosphere over the coronation weekend was pretty muted. Keynsham is a pretty average town so while extrapolation can be tricky, it’s reasonably safe to assume that overall, the coronation didn’t spark anything like the excitement that those who presume to rule over us be wanted.
Acts of defiance
Staying local, there was this act of defiance from Bath prior to the coronation. Someone with a sense of humour but also wishing to make a point marked a giant phallus into the vast grass lawn below the Royal Crescent in Bath. An acreage of grass that was set to be a location for those wishing to celebrate the coronation of Charles III.
There’s some mystery as to whether the marking of the giant phallus just a few days before the coronation was a comment on the event: Mystery surrounds ’30 foot’ phallus mown into Bath’s Royal Crescent days before coronation 4.5.23. It would be nice to think that was the case. On the other hand, it may just have been a dig at the snobbery displayed by a number of the more affluent and established residents of Bath. Then again, it could be ‘art’. The ‘art’ being that it sparked off a bit of a conversation…
From a quick scan of social media, the vast majority of people appreciated the joke and as you can imagine, there was some ribald comment. It should be noted that carving giant phalluses into the ground is a bit of a tradition here in Wessex:) Anyway, whoever was responsible for mowing this giant phallus, you, madam or sir, are a legend!
There was hostility towards the coronation and the institution of the monarchy. Some of that was expressed at a number of football matches as reported here: Liverpool fans boo anthem to honour King Charles III following coronation 6.5.23 here: Everton fans heard singing over national anthem ahead of Brighton clash after Liverpool fans booed it 8.5.23 here: Hibs fans display anti-monarchy banner during St Mirren clash on day of King’s coronation 6.5.23 and here: Video: Celtic fans Coronation chant gets good reception on BBC show 6.5.23. Granted, some of these groups of fans may be seen as ‘the usual suspects’ but it’s an indication that at least at the fringes, any sense of deference has pretty much evaporated. The cracks in the edifice are there and they’re getting wider…
Getting played and divide and rule
There were protests in London against the coronation, where the Metropolitan Police went on a bit of a nicking spree, lifting a total of sixty four people. This was in the immediate aftermath of the introduction of the Public Order Act. An act which a number of legal experts have said is open to a variety of ‘interpretations’. Some of those arrested were from the campaign group, Republic. Six of their activists were arrested before they had a chance to get their protest started. This was despite them liaising with the cops in the weeks running up to the coronation.
The organisers of the Republic protest said they had been liaising with the Met in the weeks running up to the coronation and were surprised when they were arrested as they had gained the impression that the cops ‘…had been making all the right noises’. Republic are a campaign group who as part of their tactics, organise protests. Peaceful protests that involve holding up banners and placards and some chanting. Pretty run of the mill stuff to be honest.
As a campaign group that sees itself as playing by the rules, Republic probably thought that their liaising with the Met would allow them to stage the peaceful protest they wanted to have. So when the cops were ‘making all the right noises’, they took that at face value, not really suspecting that they were being played. I wrote about this and other issues in this post: A painful lesson learned and some other thoughts… 7.5.23. It is worth repeating the lesson to be learned. Namely that the Met (like other police forces) are lying, duplicitous bastards and protest organisers should never liaise with them, let alone take their words at face value.
The six Republic activists who were arrested have all been released without charge. The Met have been trying to back track from those arrests, making noises about ‘regrets’: Coronation arrests: how the new public order law disrupted protesters’ once in a lifetime opportunity – The Conversation | 10.5.23. The arrested activists intend to sue for wrongful arrest. If the judgements go their way, the Met may well have a lot to regret, not least the amount of money they’ll have to pay in damages!
There was and continues to be a fair bit of outrage at the arrests the Met made on Saturday 6.5. There’s an element of hypocrisy from some of those expressing outrage at the arrests. Back in 2020 and into early 2021, those taking to the streets to protest against the Covid lockdowns faced intimidatory police tactics. Some of those expressing outrage at the coronation arrests were, back in 2020 and 2021, actively supporting the intimidation being deployed against the anti-lockdown protesters. Not wanting to sound vindictive or bitter but, that hypocrisy cannot be swept under the carpet and forgotten about.
Over the decades, it’s been an inexorable slide to where we are with any form of effective protest becoming more risky. It’s not helped by people being pitted against each other. As stated above, I’m thinking about the way the anti-lockdown protesters were vilified in 2020 and 2021. Sadly, some (but not all) of these protesters have turned on Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain. Sure, there are questions to be asked about the strategy and tactics of both of these groups. The point is there’s a difference between asking questions that need to be asked and being a pawn in a game of divide and rule. There are nudges on all sides to keep people’s at each other’s throats – classic divide and rule tactics that too many people are falling for.
As we’ve written more times than we care to remember, these currents of opposition to the lockdowns and vaccine mandates stretched across and beyond the political spectrum: Dealing with reality… 2.2.22. Some of them were definitely worth engaging with. Some definitely had to be be avoided. This confusion and contradiction is what happens when a new social movement emerges and takes people by surprise.
Where do we go from here?
A fair number of the currents of opposition to the lockdowns and the vaccine mandates have some pretty strong anti-monarchist sentiments. Not least because of the deep involvement of Charles III in ‘The Great Reset’. An agenda that the Covid ‘crisis’ was leveraged to accelerate. The active role of Charles III in promoting this agenda is examined in some depth in this piece published on Winter Oak: Charles’ empire: the royal reset riddle 15.4.22.
There’s everything to play for and as Martin Lux a.k.a. The Whitechapel Anarchist indicates, there’s everything to lose: ROYALTY TO BE EMPLOYED MORE BY ESTABLISHMENT. The long established currents of anti-monarchism raging from the anarchists to the decidedly middle of the road Republic have a choice to make. Do they accept or reject the tens of thousands of potential allies that have emerged from the anti-lockdown protests? We sincerely hope that an accommodation can be made, that people will step outside of their silos and that new alliances can be formed. That’s because together, we can be stronger and we can win.