Comment writer Hannah Dalgliesh argues that the coronation was out of touch and outdated signifying that the time has come to abolish the monarchy
The moment it occurs, someone, somewhere feels the shift. The crown, placed carefully on the head of a new monarch. A new era. A new dawn. Maybe, for the Brexit-voting, monarchy-loving populous of the UK, Saturday was a grand event. Something changes; they are thrilled. They hang flags and makes scones. For myself, I sat at home, seething.
It’s very hard to feel welcoming towards King Charles. He has been preparing for kingship his whole life and finally his time has come, but the time for pomp and circumstance is over. He is an unusual king, that much is true: already in his 70s and a keen environmentalist, he is not the quietly impartial or young monarch his late mother was. His coronation was lavish, extravagant, and full of bizarre tradition, my favourite of which included the spoon used to anoint him. A Telegraph article described the ‘mystical power’ of the spoon, which was laughable enough, then continued on to describe it as an example of ‘humble genius.’ There are many things I think are genius: unsurprisingly, spoons do not make the list.
Processions, street parties, posters on every pillar in Birmingham New Street station – are we really as delighted as the decoration suggests? No budget was revealed for the coronation and no public cost has yet been declared. I hope these figures will be released, but somehow I doubt it. It has been estimated that the coronation could cost anywhere between £50-100 million. This staggering figure is almost worthy of disbelief. Almost. When you look at a Guardian estimate of King Charles’s own wealth from April, it seems likely. The reported £1.8 billion is an insult to the British taxpayer.
Not only did I feel we were essentially being laughed at by the extreme wealth being hoarded in castles and crowns, the coronation also in my opinion was a perfect demonstration of just how corrupt the UK has become. Anti-monarchy protesters were arrested before the coronation had even begun, which the Metropolitan Police force now say they ‘regret,’ but it’s enough of a statement to show that our right as the people of Britain to protest against the establishment peacefully is being eroded. If we ever needed ocular proof of the Met’s obsession with protecting only the most privileged in society, women’s safety volunteers were arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning for handing out rape alarms.
I don’t pretend to speak for all women, but I will say that I have walked through Soho in the early hours of the morning and those volunteers are sorely needed: they are kind, brilliant people who volunteer with no motivation but the desire to keep others safe. At no point was it suggested that they had the intention of using rape alarms at the coronation to disrupt the event. This was blind prejudice from the Met and showed a complete lack of understanding. The government and the Met would do well to remember that a third of young people want the monarchy abolished: to show such blatant disregard for our safety and prioritise what was essentially an old man receiving a new hat only serves to alienate us further.
Of course, the biggest insult to me within all of this is that this grand event comes during a cost of living crisis. The Office for National Statistic (ONS) shows that inflation in 2022 was at an unbelievable 9.2%. Between February and March 2023 it dropped to 8.9%, but this is little comfort when inflation for food is at 19.2% and 1 in 4 adults are reportedly having to borrow money. Further ONS data reveals that gas prices in the year up to March have gone up 129%. This comes during a wave of nursing, teaching and university strikes as the richest in society continue to reap the hard work sown by the rest of us.
I work as a supply teaching assistant in Birmingham and the Black Country whilst continuing my degree. The hardest part of my job is not trying to get my pupils to sit on their chairs or listen before lunchtime: it is when they arrive in the morning not having had breakfast. These are the wonderful, cheery kids who are inheriting the political mess we have made for them. To spend tens of millions on King Charles’ coronation when they are hungry is an insult to them, an insult to parents, and insult to everything we should stand for as a country.
In my home county of Yorkshire and the Humber, it is estimated that one in three children are living in relative poverty. I was lucky to grow up in a household where we had access to tax credits and housing benefit, rather than being rolled over on to universal credit. I grieve for all the children whose parents are being supported less and less by the government and will not grow up with the safety net that I had. I wonder what it was like for them to spend their time in school learning about the monarchy and watching the coronation last weekend.
In Birmingham the situation is so dire that staff and students at one school in Perry Beeches has set up a community food bank. They are an amazing group of students, but it is absolutely despicable that they should even have to set up this resource in the first place. With 82,000 children in the Black Country living in poverty I have no doubt that more schools will set up food banks as pupils continue to arrive hungry and the cost of living crisis shows no sign of abating.
And yet Charles has had his huge celebration, a celebration of monarchy and British values, whatever that means. I suppose the British values only apply one way, from us, the people, to them, the power, and not the other way around. I couldn’t bear to watch the coronation in full, but I did tune as the King and Queen Consort were being escorted away in their golden carriage. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I think this sums up the ludicrousness of the whole affair.
The monarchy is out of touch, out of compassion, and it needs to be abolished.
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