King Charles Coronation: why a ‘great cry around the nation’ may sound muffled
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The way some folk over-reacted online this week, you would have been forgiven for thinking it was a legal requirement to rise from your sofa this Sunday and salute the coronation of King Charles III. The reality is far more mundane - it usually is.
The new Homage of the People replaces the traditional Homage of Peers where lots of dukes would doff their feathered-pointy hats and pledge their allegiance to the sovereign; basically crusty old, titled white men getting walk-on parts in the big show after raiding the family dressing-up box for old uniforms, medals made out of coloured tin foil, and bows and arrows from the 13th century. The sort of stuff we all have lying around our attics …
But it was simply an invite - nothing more, nothing less. For many, the coronation holds zero interest, but for others it is a spectacle they want to watch and, can now can be part of without having to flock to the gates of Buckingham Palace to see a tiny figure on a balcony give a regal wave to the masses in return for lots of vigorous waving of plastic flags.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury may well have called on people watching the event to take part in a "great cry around the nation and around the world of support for the King" - but I doubt Spoonies in Kirk Wynd will suddenly resound to a cry of “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to your majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God - pint of lager when you’re ready, mate.” You can also wander round Sainsbury without stopping in the cooked meats aisle to pay homage.
The church and the state no longer play such influential roles in society or the way we lead our lives. I’m old enough to remember when shops didn’t open on Sundays, and when television ended each night’s viewing with that familiar drum roll of God Save The Queen before the screen shrunk to a wee dot. It was the country’s way of saying away to bed, the lot of you.
I’ve never got the enduring fascination with royalty. As families go they seem utterly dysfunctional, and much of their time is spent opening things and waving at strangers.
I can live with or without them, to be honest. I just don’t believe in putting people on pedestals - they only fall off - and the notion of bowing to a fellow man is just absurd. You can show respect without the deferential bobbing and posturing. Anyone who can pull off the perfect curtsy without wobbling is clearly an Olympic gymnast in the making.
I’ve managed to get through 40-plus years in newspapers without ever once covering a royal visit, and have only once met an HRH where I was determined not to bow. Camilla eventually came into the gallery room at Holyrood Palace and began what I reckon was the same conversation at the start of a long line of guests. By the time she got to me, she said something so quiet, I instinctively moved forward and lowered my head to try to tune in. In other words, I bowed. Camilla 1, Crow 0.
So pay homage as you see fit this weekend. I gotta cut the grass …