It’s not always good to be king

Published 11:33 am Thursday, May 11, 2023

Well, of course, I watched the Coronation of King Charles III. Recorded the night before, and at our usual time of rising, around 5 a.m., I turned it on as Paul made his habitual pot of coffee.

While there were valid gripings by British pundits who called the entire affair ‘Charles’ Vanity parade’ and declared the coronation an unnecessary burden to the taxpayers as the country struggles with an underfunded National Health Service and inflated energy prices, I can only suppose those pundits didn’t actually watch any of the event. Had they stuck their head outside at any time during that day, they would have seen the tens of thousands lining the street—some having camped out in dismal weather for a week—or been one of the 27 million Brits who watched on television.

The thing is, when times are depressing for England, whether it be multiple strikes, economic recessions or the loss of their beloved Queen Elizabeth II, no matter how much hand-wringing is involved in pulling out all the stops and spending millions on a royal wedding, funeral, or in this case, the rare coronation, the public loves it. It seems to lift the national spirit. One cannot deny the excited, glowing faces lining the route wearing inflatable crowns and waving the Union Jack as the breathtaking pageantry of horses, 4,000 soldiers and carriages clip-clopped past. Everyone looked jubilant. 

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With the possible exception of Charles.

Evidently, he and Camilla were forced to remain in their carriage after arriving early at Westminster, as Prince William, Katherine and the kids were running late. You know how it is—kids always make you late—and I’ll guarantee you it was Prince Louie holding things up. 

“We can never be on time” it was reported by lip readers that Charles had grumbled to Camilla as they arrived early and had to wait an extra 8 minutes. 

Now, before anyone attacks Charles for griping, remember that as opulent as their Diamond Jubilee coach is, it’s probably not the most comfortable of vehicles. The seats oblige the passenger to sit bolt upright. They don’t recline and there certainly aren’t any cup holders upon which we Americans would insist. Add to this being draped in layers of fusty old robes and no view whatsoever to enjoy. While the rest of us were treated to spectacular camera angles showing sweeping images of scarlet coated soldiers with bearskin hats, what could Charles see? 

The fat, white rumps of the Windsor horses making the most appalling noises as well as frequent deposits in the street. 

And if he looked to the right, the profile of black velvet capped footmen dressed in scarlet and gold, blocking any view of the public. To the left, he could only see the lacquered hairdo of his wife.

So yes, when you’re seated in a gilded contraption as uncomfortable as the middle seat in economy class and there’s no air conditioning– or even peanuts– it must feel like sitting in a terrarium. And yes, it’s boring. As well as annoying. Perhaps that’s why he snapped at Camilla who looked throughout the journey as if she were sitting on her car keys. Frankly, he’s lucky to have her. If it had been me, I would have shot back without thinking, “Don’t bite my head off! Who died and made you King? Oh, sorry…”

The actual coronation, a tradition of 1,000 years, went off without a hitch. Promises were solemnly made, the choir was spectacular, and Harry’s expressions were mostly hidden by the enormous, red feather in Princess Anne’s hat which I can’t help but to think was on purpose. 

The entire affair ended with the obligatory ’slimmed down’ royal family waving from the balcony. Charles and Camilla didn’t get to enjoy that either. Not even the impressive fly-by. According to the lip readers, as Charles waved to the throngs, he muttered, “I can’t see a thing with this crown. I can’t look up.” Newly crowned Queen Camilla agreed, saying, “I can’t see anything either, my crown will fall off.”

It just goes to show it’s not always good to be King.