The power of Penny Mordaunt

The police have said sorry for arresting anti-monarchy protestors under the wrong legal rubric on Coronation Day, but is that really a lead news story, as it was on Tuesday’s Today programme? If the police had failed to contain the mini-mob and a couple of them had, as they intended, obstructed the processional route, there would have been a huge and justified outcry. Coverage like that of Today makes no allowance for the fact that these protestors are not ordinary citizens. Protest is their full-time job, as is making a monkey of the law. Every week, I receive notice in my inbox of protests by this coalition of organisations which

Sorry Harry, I’m the real media intrusion victim

What an emotional wringer the royal family has put us through in the past two years, from the sadness of Prince Philip’s death to the joyful Platinum Jubilee, then Queen Elizabeth II’s own extraordinarily moving funeral, and now the coronation of her son. I’ve felt so privileged to have been at Buckingham Palace for the last three events, anchoring Fox News coverage in America. After we came off air on Saturday, I mused with my two US co-presenters about what may be the next major royal occasion: a wedding, a funeral, a silver jubilee (Charles would have to live as long as his grandmother for that to happen)? Or God

Damian Thompson

The coronation music was – mostly – a triumph

Sir Hubert Parry was upgraded from knight bachelor to baronet by King Edward VII in 1902, and my goodness he earned it. His anthem for Edward’s coronation, I was Glad when they Said Unto Me, begins with a thrilling brass fanfare – or it has done since George V’s coronation in 1911: Parry’s original introit wasn’t sufficiently attention-grabbing, so he beefed it up. But the most spine-tingling moment has been there from the beginning. ‘I was…’ sings the choir on the tonic chord of B flat major – and then the word ‘glad’ bursts out where we aren’t expecting it, in G major. The Abbey staged a musical banquet in

The dignity of Prince Harry

For the coronation of Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953, all the members of the Royal Family were present, with one notable exception: her uncle, the former Edward VIII, now the Duke of Windsor. Although Edward had attempted to build civil relations with his niece after her accession to the throne the previous year, it was widely – and correctly – believed that his toadying to her was largely connected to his wishing to extract money from her, and besides his publication of a scandalous and revelatory memoir, A King’s Story, in 1951 had seen him cast out into outer darkness by his family. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher,

The shame of the coronation arrests

What century is this? I ask because today, in London, peaceful protesters have been handcuffed and arrested for daring to express disapproval of King Charles. For daring to believe Britain should be a republic, not a constitutional monarchy. This is a grotesque assault on freedom. It is borderline medieval. No one’s feelings, not even the King’s, should ever trump the people’s right to freely express their beliefs in public. ‘Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties’ The footage coming out of Trafalgar Square shames Britain. We’ve seen protesters in ‘Not My King’ t-shirts being arrested. Cops apparently seized hundreds

Qanta Ahmed

God save our Islamophilic King

Britain today celebrates the crowning of a new king, but the coronation will be watched and celebrated by millions across the Commonwealth. To an extent that is often not appreciated abroad, the Queen – who was Defender of the Faith – was revered by her subjects of all faiths. In our often sectarian world, she exerted a unifying force: one that her son recognised and exemplifies. King Charles is deeply informed of Muslim beliefs, culture and mores Muslims in Britain and the world over will recognise, in King Charles, a monarch who is deeply Islamophilic. He has spoken about his attempts to learn Arabic in order to understand the Quran

In celebration of street parties

There is something very equalising about a street party. At one gathering I attended last year on a central London mews, a trust fund baby peered nervously out from his living room window before deciding to emerge, carrying two bottles of champagne and a flower vase filled with a tumultuous mess of a Platinum Jubilee trifle. When the lemonade for the Pimm’s ran out, the champagne was mixed in instead. He didn’t seem to mind. It’s good for us British to be thrust into these social settings. I get the impression that some of the Mediterranean peoples do this sort of thing every weekend: long balmy evenings help I suppose.

How Protestant is the Coronation?

30 min listen

The Coronation in Westminster Abbey is the only occasion at which our monarch declares himself or herself to be a Protestant, thus ensuring that no Catholic can sit on the throne of the United Kingdom. Yet, paradoxically, the Coronation is the only English Royal ceremony which is replete with Catholic symbolism – the King will even wear robes whose origins lie in the vestments of the Catholic clergy. My guest in this episode of Holy Smoke – the historian Dr Francis Young of Oxford University – explains how this strange anomaly came about and why, for example, profoundly Protestant monarchs (and they included our late Queen) felt it necessary to

Why the coronation matters

At one level, asking why the coronation matters is to slightly miss the point. Living as we do in a constitutional monarchy, the coronation doesn’t need to make a case for itself. It is simply an indispensable part, primarily in symbolic terms, of the installation of our new head of state. But setting aside for a moment its constitutional and religious significance, the coronation is important for another reason. Unlike almost every other nation state, the UK does not have an official national day. The patron saint days of the respective countries of the UK, of course, are celebrated to varying degrees ­– though St George’s Day far less so

Olivia Potts

Charlotte Royale: a celebration cake fit for a king

The big bank holiday weekend is about to begin. You’ve made that spinach and broad bean quiche. The bunting’s ready for your street party. You’ve crafted a coronation drinking game. But there’s something missing, isn’t there? An itch that just needs to be scratched. Where’s the pizazz? Where’s the cake? As the oft-misattributed quote goes: a party without cake is just a meeting. I know, I know: a quiche can be fun, but is it celebratory? No, what we need is a good old over-the-top, lily-gilded showstopper of a cake, that you can cut into with appropriate levels of pomp and circumstance. And, boy, do I have the pudding for

What happens when coronations go awry

Despite weeks of preparation and rehearsal, coronations don’t always go according to plan. Indeed, a botched coronation or one plagued by misfortune can be taken by the superstitious as a poor augury for coming reigns – sometimes justifiably. Case in point: the celebrations of Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna in Moscow’s Dormition Cathedral on 14 May 1896. While the hours-long ceremony for the last Tsar and Tsarina went off without a hitch, the following national holiday and public feast in Khodynka Field led to a stampede where at least 1,300 died and 1,300 more were left with serious injuries. The cause? A day later, the Russian government gazette issued the following anodyne

In praise of minor royals

On a scaffold hung with black cloth, on a freezing January day in 1649, the instinct for sumptuousness died in these islands. It was killed alongside Charles I, kingly excess and belief in divine right and, with intermittent exceptions, has never recovered. And so when, time and again since September, we’ve heard about our new King’s plans for downsizing the monarchy, the bulk of the population has calmly nodded its assent. Trim, slim, streamline, skimp. Time to dispense with peripheral royal family members! Farewell to the jostling chorus line of the Buckingham Palace balcony of yesteryear, all oversized hats, Ruritanian frippery and excitable small children! Away with the hangers-on! A

How to celebrate the coronation weekend

Lots of things seem to get described as ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences nowadays, but for many of us the coronation really will be just that. So, how to make the most of the historic long weekend? Clock off from work at a reasonable time on Friday and while getting dressed into your glad rags pour yourself a glass of English sparkling wine. Nyetimber and Hattingley Valley both have appealing coronation edition cuvées. Have some friends over – as with Christmas or new year, I think the tantalising eve of the big day is always the most fun time for a party. Serve some nibbles, such as Tyrrells’s coronation chicken

The best coronations in literature

‘In her big, white dress the Queen looks like a balloon that’s about to float up to the roof of Westminster Abbey and bob about up there amongst the gilded arches and roof bosses. To prevent this happening people keep weighing her down with cloaks and robes, orbs and spectres, until she’s so heavy that bishops and archbishops have to help propel her around.’ This is the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 as described by one-year-old Ruby Lennox in Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum. These observations might seem preternaturally advanced from a narrator not yet old enough to walk and talk, but that is consistent for

The ultimate guide to coronation food

There was nothing actually wrong with coronation quiche, Buckingham Palace’s suggested dish for a coronation lunch. Spinach, broad beans, cheddar: all fine. The trouble was, it wasn’t coronation chicken. When you’re following an actual classic, it’s impossible not to be overshadowed. And coronation chicken is that marvellous thing, a recipe which feels as though it has always been around because it’s so right as a combination of flavours and textures. But like every classic dish, it’s been traduced: take commercial mayonnaise, stir in curry sauce and a bit of mango chutney and a few raisins… and it’s cropping up in all sorts of weird combos now (CC scotch egg, anyone?). The

Why millennial men are turning to the Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer is enjoying a revival in the Church of England, despite the best efforts of some modernists to mothball it. Over the past two years, more and more churchgoers have asked me about a return to Thomas Cranmer’s exquisite language, essentially unaltered since 1662, for church services and private devotions. Other vicars tell me they have had a similar increase in interest.   It helps that the Book of Common Prayer has had a fair bit of attention recently. The late Queen Elizabeth’s insistence on the use of Prayer Book texts in her funeral rites meant that in September more people witnessed the beauty of this liturgical treasure than watched Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon. The

Crowning moments: coronations in the movies

Before Westminster Abbey opens its doors on Saturday, what better way to get in the spirit than to explore the storied history of coronations in the movies? The sheer spectacle of a monarch’s formal coronation has an inherently cinematic aspect – and it’s one that motion pictures have long exploited. Here are ten films to savour before the event: The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King (2003) – NOW, Amazon Rent/Buy Impressive as King Charles III’s coronation is sure to be, it’s unlikely to match the crowning of Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) as King Elessar in the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. After

We don’t need a ‘diverse’ coronation

Refugees and the NHS, we are told, will be at the heart of King Charles’s ‘diverse’ coronation in May. You’d think that a thousand-year-old institution tasked with steering clear of controversy might seek to avoid such hot potatoes. But there is nothing unexpected about this royal foray into politics. LGBTQ+ groups will perform at ‘a star-studded concert at Windsor Castle’ as part of the celebrations marking His Majesty’s accession to the throne. A royal source told the Daily Telegraph the coronation ‘needed to be “majestic” but “inclusive” to reflect a diverse modern Britain’.  Unfortunately, this sounds like another example of the utterly banal EDI (equality, diversity, inclusion) events we’ve become

The Zulu’s new king brings peace, for a moment

A new king of the Zulu was crowned at the weekend. Thousands in South Africa went to Durban to watch the coronation of Misuzulu kaZwelithini. The city was sunny, which meant the Zulu ancestors were happy. The coronation, held at the Moses Mabhida stadium, was a celebration of Zulu tribal dominance. While South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who handed over the certificate recognising Misuzulu as the Zulu monarch, was booed by the audience, his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, was cheered. Ramaphosa comes from the tiny Venda tribe, on the border with Zimbabwe. Zuma is a Zulu. Zulus don’t care much about the accusations against their former president. His opponents say he’s

The case against a stripped-back coronation

The last King Charles was crowned in 1661. Samuel Pepys attended the ceremony. He was captivated by ‘the sight of all these glorious things… sure never to see the like again in this world’. He later became so merry, he told his diary, that ‘my head began to turne and I to vomitt…Thus did the day end, with joy everywhere’. We live in a more decorous age, but I think Pepys imbibed the right spirit. The coming coronation of King Charles III should be joyful too. The paradox is that joy will not be achieved unless the ceremony is solemn and magnificent. Early signs give slight cause for concern. On