Setting the stage – London shimmers on coronation eve

But the modern coronation is both a useful reminder of the importance of tradition in a culture that has abandoned such ceremonies at record speed, and a reminder of the anachronism that, at its core, tradition is a body that, most days, struggles to prove An institution that has relevance to the wider community and the many micro-communities within it. As the terminology contradicts, it’s a whopper.

Trying to gauge the buzz of the 21st century is also an odd exercise in understanding the fervent eccentricities of the royal fanatics already lining the streets, and the imperatives of modern national security, evidenced by a massive still-unfolding police presence .

People take selfies in front of a replica of St Edward's Crown.

People take selfies in front of a replica of St Edward’s Crown.Credit: getty

As the weekend approaches, the Mall, the tree-lined boulevard linking Trafalgar Square’s Admiralty Arch to the main gate of Buckingham Palace, has transformed from a sparse crowd to a full-fledged tent city. It will form an important part of the coronation carriage route between the Palace and Westminster Abbey on Saturday. It is surrounded by quick-replicated roadblocks and police checkpoints.

The good news for restless Australian Republicans is that the crowd is not predominantly Australian. In fact, according to tourism industry data, most tourists come from the United States. (Did no one tell them about the American Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Paris?)

Australia is third on the list of coronation arrivals, behind the US and India and ahead of Canada and Italy. And all this at a time when airfares are more than 20% higher than they were at this time last year.

Much of the coronation’s secrets are shrouded in darkness. During the day, the streets are crowded with tourists and vehicles. But at night, the police cordon was lowered and thousands of coronation procession participants, including the monarch’s guard of the Household Cavalry, had been rehearsing their moves.

Even Scotland’s legendary Stone of Scones was smuggled to London in the middle of the night to rest on St Edward’s coronation chair.

Walking around central London, you see a police presence long before you start paying attention to the crowds. Operation Golden Globe – Who Really Came Up With These Names? – Some 29,000 officers will be deployed on the streets of London in “one of the most significant and largest security operations” ever undertaken by the Metropolitan Police.

It’s also a strange foreshadowing of the weekend, when the Met will deploy facial recognition technology at a major event for the first time. The Met said it would “focus on those whose presence on Coronation Day would raise public protection concerns”.

Pro-privacy activists disagree, describing it as an “Orwellian technology” [which] It may be used in China and Russia, but it has no place on the streets of the UK”. Madeleine Stone, legal and policy officer at Big Brother Watch, said the technology “turns the public into I got a walking ID card.”

Six of the eight Windsor gray horses will pull the Golden State carriage in Hyde Park, central London, during rehearsals for the coronation.

Six of the eight Windsor gray horses will pull the Golden State carriage in Hyde Park, central London, during rehearsals for the coronation.Credit: getty

All the security measures make sense when you consider who’s on the guest list: heads of foreign government, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, heads of state, crowned (and uncrowned) European royal heads, U.S. First lady Jill Biden joined more ordinary celebrities such as singers Lionel Richie, David and Victoria Beckham and even Belle Gerald as Chief Scout Riles. It is indeed “dididi”.

The biggest party you can add to that was who’s who and who’s left knighthood of debrett British nobility since…well, Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953. In most cases, this means favoring second-tier royals, including Prince Andrew (but no Fergie), Prince Harry (but no Meghan), the Gloucester family, the Kent family, Princess Margaret’s family, and The last true noble bodyguard, Elizabeth’s cousin Princess Alexandra, the Honorable Lady Ogilvy.


The number of guests at Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation was reduced from 8,000 to 2,300, a carefully tailored list that also included foreign royals such as King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Queen Máxima, Queen Margrethe II, Crown Prince Frederick and Australian-born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco and the Sultan of Brunei .

It even includes Australian singer Nick Cave, who proclaims himself to be “Not so indifferent to the world and how it works, so captive to ideology, so damn grumpy, to refuse an invitation to the most important British historical event of our time”.

All of them witnessed the coronation, which, at least in principle, was mainly performative, like Charles and Camilla: The Royal MusicalActually, King Charles III won the throne the moment his mother breathed her last, that’s the way these things go. That’s why they say, “The queen is dead, long live the king.”

But with props like The Coronation and legendary weapons like the Temporal Justice Sword, The Coronation is more than just drama. It’s an exotic blend of clerical bombast and jeweled pantomime, set to an impenetrably long script that culminates in the coronation vows and the placing of St. Edward’s crown on King Charles’ head.think of it as a g grade game of Thrones.

It even has a number at 11 o’clock – the show-stopper that comes later in the second act – in the form of Handel Priest Zadok, composed for the coronation of King George II in 1727, is a favorite for state occasions and coronations around the world. Royals will also note that it was performed at the 2004 wedding of the Virgin Mary to Prince Frederik of Denmark.


So, do these really matter? While many expect a wave of post-Elizabeth II republicanism, support for the monarchy, at least on its home soil, appears to be fairly solid, if not entirely sober. (The British Beer and Pub Association estimates that 62 million pints of beer will be dumped over the three-day weekend.)

A more sombre poll from YouGov found 62 percent of the country backed keeping the monarchy and its sometimes indecisive leader, King Charles III. Tie the flag-waving majority with the uncertain ways (about 12% total), and only about a quarter of the country is interested in restarting the system.

The owner of Val's English Tea and Pie Shop hoists a commemorative flag as he adorns the windows ahead of King Charles III's coronation.

The owner of Val’s English Tea and Pie Shop hoists a commemorative flag as he adorns the windows ahead of King Charles III’s coronation. Credit: Associated Press

In fact, most are preoccupied with drama, pomp and pomp. Like most big-budget stage productions, opening night is just hours away from curtains, and it follows full-scale rehearsals on Thursday night London time, featuring King Charles, Queen Camilla, the Duchess of Royal , The Prince and Princess of Wales and their three children. (No sign of Harry though. Don’t ask. That’s a whole other story.)

In this sense, perhaps the coronation is an analog of the royal institution itself: superficially eccentric at first glance, but at the same time central to Britain’s national identity in a way. It is both spiritual and natural. As a symbol, both the institution and the coronation that cloaks it in mystery remain the same in a changing world.

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