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May 14, 2023

I’ve been involved in three or four coronations in my time, once as the one to be anointed. Admittedly, the Far Isles has never had the population of the United Kingdom, nor the budget. But I feel that I have enough experience to criticize.

Overall, Alpha, maybe even Alpha Plus. A solid performance of the traditional rituals with enough modifications to take the idea forward. The King probably wanted to go further but that would have required legislation that skirted the edge of constitutional reform. He got to stick in a prayer of his own and ensured the service went on about him being of service more than it went on about him being magnificent.

But every generation rewrites the ceremony a bit. The core of this one was written a little more than a hundred years ago.

A large number (for Britain) of minority participants in the ceremonial and a notable number of women among the clergy, courtiers and politicians. The Lord President of the Council (who is female but is still called ‘Lord’) looking particularly striking, in a dress whose colour and ornamentation reminded people, or so they said, of the Poundland chain of discount stores. She had been in training, so she said, for hefting the two swords she was responsible for.

(At one point about the middle of the procession into the Abbey that ended with the entry of the Queen and then the King, I swear I saw three women bearing white wands. Not a clue as to who they might be from the order of service. Others tell me they saw them too and have had similar lack of luck in their researches. I came to the conclusion that they were the representatives of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, Slytherin having refused to cow tow to a Muggle Monarch.)

And the anthem for the entry of the Queen and King was very fine. Enough ‘Vivats’ to satisfy even a member of the SCA who tend to vivat their monarchs until they’re deaf.

Watching the various noble and sacred persons reading their lines from bits of paper makes me happier that we had to do the same thing in the Far Isles.

Our coronations tended to feel under rehearsed and perhaps the same problem was what was making the Archbishop of Canterbury look so grumpy, though you did rather get the impression that he would rather not have shared the stage with all these non-Anglican persons. I’ve never heard ‘Christ is Risen!’ said in such a dyspeptic tone before.

The Moderator of the Church Of Scotland on the other hand, did his little bit beautifully, presenting a newly printed Bible with dignity and meaning.

(I wondered why the Orthodox representative had an Ulster accent, which is narrow minded of me.)

It was moving to hear ‘Zadok the Priest’ which has been part of the ceremony since Handel wrote it in its proper place, which is giving people something to interest them while the King is being anointed out of sight. And they got an anthem to knock the roof of the Abbey.

I didn’t actually see the Prince of Wales kiss the King after swearing fealty: I was probably too busy thinking that the FI did things better. Or possibly being irritated by the burst of chatter over the BBC’s comms that got heard by the world at large. (“Is that the Prince of Wales?” “Yes, close up on the Prince of Wales!”)

And then out to the Poor Bloody Infantry and the Damned Damp Cavalry in the rain outside with representative troops from around the Commonwealth (including four Mounties!) with water running off their hats to escort them back to the palace.
Not bad for a once in a lifetime (I very much hope) experience.

Ah well, Long Live The King! ” (Though not ‘May the King Live Forever’ because that never works.) Because if we have to do this again any time soon the only way we’ll afford a coronation is if we open it to commercial sponsorship. “And now as McDonald’s King Of Arms hands the Capita Sword of Justice to the Premier Inns Lord President of the Council…”

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