I didn’t watch the Coronation of King Charles III live (much to my mother’s chagrin) but I did catch the highlights later on Saturday afternoon. It was a quite an affair! The colours, music, and pageantry had the power to snatch the breath away of even the staunchest anti-monarchist. At least for a moment. Everything was choreographed to near perfection. Nothing was left to chance. It was said that at an Air Force base in the south of England, fake roads mimicking those around Buckingham Palace were set up, so that those marching in the procession could practice. Every moment seemed heavy with symbolism and meaning. The clothes worn by Charles and Camilla were parsed and parsed again, the carriage in which they rode was figuratively dismantled for us so that we could understand the history and meaning of each of its parts.
Nothing was left to chance. Nothing was undefined. Nothing left us wondering.
It should be no surprise therefore that the moment being most talked about and written about post-Coronation, was the wave from the balcony of the Palace. It was perhaps the most anticipated moment of the entire event, the first real exchange of greeting between the King and his subjects. The crowds that gathered at the base of the balcony, and miles up the Mall, were giddy with anticipation.
There are two things of note from that moment, firstly, King Charles was joined on the balcony by his family, with the exception of two – Andrew and Harry. This was no surprise to anyone, as both of these men have become toxic to the Royal brand, one due to what he did and other to what he said. But the bigger surprise was how they lined up on the balcony. Charles and Camilla were front and centre as they should be, but then on either side were the children, lined up like toy soldiers. William and Kate were crammed into a corner on the far left. I would never have given this a second thought, but many have. When you surround yourself with people shorter than you, it makes you look more powerful. Had William been standing at his father’s side, as was expected, he chanced looking more authoritative due to his size and stature. Hence some pundits believe that Charles wanted to telegraph a message that he was in charge. He knew that the balcony picture would be shared more than any other moment of his coronation, so he wanted to project strength. What better way to do that than to be the tallest guy in the shot. Is this fair? Did he really give it that much thought? And if so, was the King projecting an air of strength, or one of insecurity?
To take this one step further, many are comparing this balcony shot to the last one that included the Queen shortly before she passed away. At her side were Charles, William and George. It was as if she was sharing her final hope that the monarchy be preserved after she was gone.
Nothing is left to chance. Nothing is undefined. Nothing leaves us wondering.
Do moments really mean this much? If you are royalty, I suppose they do. I can’t imagine living with that kind of scrutiny day in and day out. What must it be like to have your every word and movement dissected by those who believe they have a right to define your life? There is no question that royals live in the lap of luxury, but it comes at a price, and I’m not sure it is a life that any sane person would choose.
Still, I wish King Charles the best. He has waited long enough for this job, and he deserves a crack at it. The eyes of the world will be watching. Everything.