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  • Reverend James Squire

The Coronation of King Charles

Photo by Mitya Ivanove

There has been a mixed reaction to the Coronation of the next King of England, King Charles. I believe that people seemed to love Queen Elizabeth because of the care she communicated to her people. She was a grand lady. We have friends in England with whom we are in touch. He is the former Chief Architect of the Church of England and she is a former school teacher. They are supporters of the monarchy and it is worth the money to have someone represent and act as a leader to keep the country together.

In a poll commissioned by the BBC, a massive 70% of the Brits age 18-35 said that they are not interested in the royal family. Overall, 58% weren’t interested, and 45% of the people believe that Charles as out of touch with the experiences of the people. Generally speaking, the people loved Queen Elizabeth, but don’t like Prince Charles soon to be King Charles. He gets the same reaction as DeSantis does in Florida. He doesn’t have any people skills. You can almost hear him saying, “Well stiff upper lip!”

However, when we were there last there was a growing dissatisfaction among those in the working class about their tax dollars supporting the extravagance of the monarchy. This has resurrected today in the financial crisis and strikes that are occurring throughout England. The monarchy was supported when there was the notion of the divine right of kings, but most have moved on from that reason for the monarchy to exist. The chief sell for the monarchy is that the monarchy benefits more of the people of England than it costs the English taxpayer. It reminds me of the reason that huge cathedrals were built in Europe at a cost of money, and blood sweat and tears of the common man. It goes as follows: Once you have this grand structure you can vicariously experience a majestic structure that is yours to lift you from your mundane life.

The cost of the coronation which will be from taxpayers’ money is $125 million. Charles inherited 1.1 billion dollars and millions of dollars more for the renovations of his various properties. All from taxpayer dollars. To put this in context the Spanish monarchy costs the taxpayer about $9 million dollars.

You would be wise not to ask the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh how they feel about the monarchy as the monarchy hasn’t done them much good. I asked an Irish woman how she felt about the coronation and she replied, “I don’t even think about it.” I have a story that may go to the heart of the matter.

My family and I were traveling throughout England and then entered Wales from its extreme upper border. Those 16 letter names in the Welsh language of communities are hard to remember. We don’t have a problem with the Welsh names in our area, Bala Cynwyd and Bryn Mawr for example.

We arrived early at our B and B to settle in before we went touring. No one was home. A neighbor came to her door. We told her our plight and she said, “I will tell her you were here. Go off and have a good time.” When we returned in the evening, the owner of the B and B came to the door, and announced that she was just about to give away our rooms. I was surprised and told her that we left word with her neighbor who assured us that she would let her know that we had arrived and would be back after touring. The owner of the B and B got a nasty look on her face and said, “She never told me. She’s English! What can you expect?” (Indicating that the neighbor was her mortal enemy.) Why would that have happened? You have to know some modern history.

For those of who have been to Wales, you know that it is a beautiful country. The Welsh people fell on hard economic times. Their primary industry of mining had been shut down. This meant that the only employment that they could get was for the men to travel south leaving their families for a week going to build the underground railroad between England and France. They would return home for the weekends. In the meantime, a good number of Welsh homes went into default and were sold to the English for summer or weekend homes in the beautiful Welsh countryside.

You won’t see many Welsh, Scottish, or Irish flags at the Coronation. Clearly the British know how to do ceremony and pomp and circumstance. I saw interviews of people who were not politicians who came from all over England and the world. World leaders, or their representatives, were present. One of the themes that I heard from the people was that they wanted to watch this historic moment. They were fully engaged and cheering. Protesters with signs such as “He is not my king” appeared in very small numbers. They were immediately arrested so not to spoil this historic moment. If we employ the principles of the ethical guidelines of Utilitarianism, the “greatest good for the greatest number” we should rejoice in the coronation.

The British know how to do events with great flare to communicate that events are important and by extension the people are as well. I think that is the secret to the continuation of the monarchy and is found in an official communication that I got from the government of the Queen. I was asked to bless a marriage in Bermuda. It took 9 months for me to get a response from the British government to approve me officiating at the wedding. I received a large brown envelope in the mail that listed the return address as “On Her Majesty’s Service.” My wife asked if I was subbing for James Bond. Inside was a large diploma like document done in calligraphy granting me permission for one day to bless the marriage. I must admit that you feel kind of special when receiving something like that, and it also communicates that what you will be doing is very important, like when you receive a college diploma. The monarchy and the then queen have made their people feel important and what they are doing is very important as well.

I did watch when the Archbishop of Canterbury place the crown on Charles’ head. He couldn’t seem to get it right. He had to ADJUST it a couple of times to make sure that it is fitting properly. Adjust to make the work of the people and those who do it feel special and a piece of a long history will be essential to the continuation of the monarchy. That is also what a coronation does and the building of those huge cathedrals across Europe. I always ask my students to go by the guideline that with everything that we are doing, we are paying a price What is it? Is it worth it? That will be the questions facing the English people going forward.

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