A Deep Dive Into The Generational Divide And Diverse Opinions Over The Royals And The Coronation
King Charles and Queen Camilla were officially crowned during the monarch’s coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Saturday May 6, which is believed to have cost the state £250 million.
Ahead of the ceremony, the King faced criticism as news emerged that he was exempt from paying inheritance tax on Queen Elizabeth II's personal wealth, in addition to disagreement over the coronation itself, with many arguing that it was unnecessary and inappropriate as the region grapples with the ongoing cost of living crisis. Graham Smith, chief executive of anti-monarchy campaign group, Republic, went as far as to describe the event as a ‘slap in the face for millions of people'.
King Charles' inheritance means his private fortune is estimated to now be worth around £1.8 billion. While the Queen's more lavish 1953 coronation cost £1.57 million (around £46 million today), the King's was believed to be twice that amount due to the added cost for security, which wasn't as much of an issue at the time of his mother's ceremony.
However, comparing the King's ceremony to those of his ancestors is more complicated. For example, George IV’s extravagant event, which would cost £23 million in today's money, works out as a quarter of the supposed cost for Charles, according to The Times. But, the same news outlet indicated that considering the size of the economy now, on the basis that Charles' coronation ceremony cost £100 million, it's believed his historic event contributed to about 0.004% of yearly output, which would mean that his coronation could have been the most frugal in two centuries.
Buckingham Palace previously stated that the ceremony would be ‘rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry’ while reflecting ‘the monarch’s role today and look towards the future’.
In the days leading up to the coronation, the Metropolitan Police issued a warning that it would have a 'low' tolerance for any disruption caused by protesters at the ceremony, and later arrested 64 individuals on the day of the event, per the BBC. Four people have been charged so far.
If you believe in women's suffrage, you believe in the right to protest.
If you oppose apartheid, you believe in the right to protest.
If you think our children deserve a liveable future, you believe in the right to protest.
Defend our freedoms. Repeal the Public Order Bill!
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 9, 2023
Smith was among those who were arrested. Many protesters against the monarchy lined the coronation procession route, dressed in yellow, and held up signs which read: ‘Not My King.'
Footage of the arrest of several protesters has been shared to Twitter, with one video posted by user @shelleyasquith receiving over nine million views, and counting. The Twitter user described the scene as ‘outrageous’, noting: 'So we are not allowed to show public opposition to a bloke being crowned head of state for having been born into unimaginable wealth while ppl line up at food banks and schools fall apart [sic].'
One person who agreed with their anti-coronation stance shared a quote from Chinese philosopher and politician Confucius which read: ‘To be wealthy and honoured in an unjust society is a disgrace.’
Ahead of the coronation, journalist Ash Sarkar told ELLE UK that holding it during a cost of living crisis would put 'the unfairness of the institution into stark relief'.
Of course, the division over the royal family has been longstanding. Take the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, for example, when dozens of Republic protestors held banners reading 'citizen, not subject' along the banks of the River Thames during the pageant. At the time boats sailed down the Thames and were inspected by the Queen and her husband, the late Prince Philip.
Fast forward to day and a survey by the polling company Savanta found that one third of UK adults (36%) said their opinion of the royal family had become more negative than it was 10 years ago. Just 21% said their views were more positive, and 41% said their views stayed the same. Three in 10 said they had become less interested in news about the family over that time.
Furthermore, a generational divide has become even more evident. A recent poll conducted by YouGov and the BBC indicated that 32% of 18 to 24-year-olds believed that Britain should continue to have a monarchy, compared with 78% of people over 65 who stood with the monarchy.
The majority of the youngest participants (59%) said King Charles was out of touch with the experiences of the British public, while 34% of those over 65 shared that view. A similar divide was shown regarding general interest in the royal family, with 78% of the youngest group surveyed saying it had none.
Recent analysis by Talkwalker, an application used to analyse chatter online, found that while 37% of posts about King Charles were positive and only 13% negative in the UK over the coronation weekend, there were slightly more negative posts related to the coronation specifically, with 35% positive against 25% negative.
The King's coronation was watched by an average of 18 million viewers in the UK, compared to the Queen's coronation which saw 27 million people in the UK tune in to watch. And while the Queen's big day was the first to be televised, which could explain the added interest among viewers, the contrasting figures may also suggest people's waning interest in a royal event of this kind.
While some labelled the coronation a 'once in a lifetime' event, others mocked the pro-royal sentiment.
Outrageous scenes of cops arresting anti-monarchy protestors and stealing their placards
So we are not allowed to show public opposition to a bloke being crowned head of state for having been born into unimaginable wealth while ppl line up at food banks and schools fall apart pic.twitter.com/klkSjLMAmL
— Shelly Asquith (@ShellyAsquith) May 6, 2023
So to sum up:
Peaceful protestors were arrested.
Camilla Parker-Bowles is now Queen of England.
An obscene amount of public money has been wasted during a cost of living crisis. #Coronation
— Kate (@snarky_kate) May 6, 2023
I had to get some cash from an ATM this weekend. Not only can't you escape the coronation, but this is really a cost of living crisis slap in the face. pic.twitter.com/H1QCOljskN
— Aaron Winter (@aaronzwinter) May 8, 2023
Given how much Charles is worth and given there are so many people suffering through a cost of living crisis. How is he not mortified about the cost of his coronation and more specifically who’s being asked to pay for it.
— Douglas Henshall (@djhenshall) May 3, 2023
it’s just struck me that the coronation of a new king in 2023 during a cost of living crisis is also going to be a super spreader event in the midst of an ongoing pandemic everyone wants us to forget is happening, and i think we need to turn society off and on again tbh
— Laura Elliott (@TinyWriterLaura) May 5, 2023
Today’s #Coronation is a moment of extraordinary national pride.
No other country could put on such a dazzling display.
But it is not just a spectacle.
It’s a proud expression of our history, culture, and traditions.
It is a vivid demonstration of the modern character of our… pic.twitter.com/iDtuICOF9h
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) May 6, 2023
A proud day to be British. What an extraordinary effort done by all on parade. By far my proudest day #KingCharlesIIICoronation #Coronation
— Toby Joyce (@tobiis92) May 6, 2023
For decades, King Charles III has been a strong advocate for the environment, education, and equality. His coronation marks an extraordinary moment in history as the world faces immense challenges and change. I join the people of the UK in wishing him a long and prosperous reign.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) May 6, 2023
Why is it Americans feel quite entitled to belittle, mock, insult, slam, and outright lie about the British royal family and once-in-a-lifetime #Coronation
...and we don't mock their annual multi-million$ 4th of July celebrations? Or 18 mo multi-million$ presidential campaigns? pic.twitter.com/NA7AfY2OIP
— Epi Curious, PhD (@shagpokewhipple) May 8, 2023
In the lead up to King Charles’ coronation, it was regularly reported that it was to be a scaled-back version of the late Queen’s 1953 ceremony. Whereas the King’s coronation welcomed around 2,200 guests, 8,251 attended Her Majesty’s, which was also held at the Abbey, with 129 nations and territories officially represented at the Coronation service.
Ahead of the coronation it was also reported that the ceremony would cost the nation more than it generates, with the bank holiday helping to drive a 0.7% dip in Gross Domestic Product in May (GDP). But, it has since been reported that due to the coronation, hotel revenue is up 54% compared to the same time last year, which suggests the event has given a boost to the hospitality sector.
Overall, as figures show (from the likes of Savanta, YouGov and the BBC), the UK public has shown a declining interest in the royal family over the past decade, a period that's seen the family at the centre of several controversies, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's decision to step down as senior members of the royal family, before giving televised interviews about 'The Firm' and the release of the Duke of Sussex's book, Spare.
It'll be interesting to see whether King Charles will unite or divide the nation even further over the coming years.
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