Peter Rhodes on a frilly Coronation, a cynical country and who's writing those “personal statements”?

So bang goes His Majesty's original idea of a “no-frills” Coronation. May's three-day event will be a silly-frilly riot of gold-plated pageantry and right-on inclusivity, with choirs, concerts, a carriage procession and street parties. Or at least that's the plan, as unveiled at the weekend.

The Queen's Coronation of 1953 – happier times.
The Queen's Coronation of 1953 – happier times.

The reality is that Charles is nowhere near as popular as his mother was and there is still lingering resentment about the way he treated Diana. The plan to crown Camilla is not universally popular.

Everything has changed since the last Coronation. Charles's celebration will take place not in the heady optimism of 1953 but in the grim, divided and deeply cynical Britain of 2023 with an unpopular government slouching towards the next General Election on a tidal wave of scandals.

I can see every malcontent organisation from Just Stop Oil to the trans-rights lobby taking to the streets to spoil Charles's big day, sorry, three days. And God alone knows what pungent tit-bits the Princes Harry and Andrew might bring to the table.

Meanwhile, some of us are asking why we need a Coronation at all. The ceremony was essential in olden days when messages had to be sent by horse to the corners of the realm and the peasantry needed to see the right person installed on the throne, and not some interloper. But in a digital age, what is the point of all this ballyhoo? The Queen died in September. Charles instantly became monarch and has been doing the job ever since. He could have been quietly crowned by the Archbishop in the presence of the PM and leaders of other political parties. Instead, a hard-up nation is facing a surfeit of frills. I foresee trouble.

Generations of students have won university places thanks to their personal statement, a brief essay in which they explain why they want a particular course. But now these statements are to be scrapped on the grounds that they favour more privileged applicants and may even be written by friends or adult relatives. Ah, yes – the hand of grandad.

But you'd think the unis would easily spot “personal statements” crafted by a more mature hand. They might ask, for example, why an 18-year-old applicant apparently knows so much about barrage balloons, Gracie Fields and Werther's Originals.

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