by Laurence Hughes
Whether supporters of constitutional monarchy or not, I doubt if many would deny that the late Queen maintained the dignity of her office and avoided compromising it by publicising her personal political/cultural opinions for the whole 70 years of her reign. Which is why despite any other perceived failings, she made the monarchy the last bastion of traditional Britain, its values, and its liberties, until the last.
We have now entered a new era. Not only has Charles III never been shy about publicising his opinions on pretty much everything, but he shows no obvious signs of restraining himself now he is King. Indeed, just his latest ‘pc’ gesture in supporting ‘research’ into the links between the British monarchy and the slave trade indicates the direction in which we are going. And he has already been called ‘the King of climate change’. No wonder the BBC seem to love him so much!
The plans for the coronation display a level of ‘wokeness’ which is frankly sick-making. Coronations are supposed to display some kind of timeless sense of tradition and continuity, combining ancient religious ritual with tasteful contributions from the leading creative figures of the time. The late Queen’s coronation – available in full online – is an impressive example of this, and is something that figured in the background of my childhood and has fascinated me for much of my life. The event about to take place will be a travesty – a perfect example of the tawdry, virtue-signalling, ideologically distorted nightmare which is modern Britain.
In a way, it’s all a bit of a surprise, as Charles has demonstrated frequently in the past that he is basically rather conservative in his tastes. But clearly he, and the monarchy, have now been ‘got at’, and are to be co-opted, like every other institution in this country, into the relentless promotion of the modern ‘pc’, ‘multicultural’ British police state. The very last institution to retain some genuine continuity with the past has now crumbled.
It has already been announced that a lot of the congregation will be invited from ‘approved’ groups – no doubt including a contingent of ‘frontline workers’ from our glorious NHS, plus, undoubtedly, representatives of our numerous ‘minority’ activist (grievance-mongering) organisations; I will be amazed if that doesn’t include climate change extremists. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, either if, as well as fragments of traditional ceremonial, we are treated to heart-felt declarations of contrition on slavery and colonialism. And the LGBTQetc ‘community’ are also to be represented, apparently. ‘Diversity and inclusion’ are to reign supreme.
As a composer, my particular concern is with the music. I think a quick look at this aspect of things serves as an illustration of the lowest-common-denominator, ideologically-manipulated nature of the whole proceedings. At the last coronation the music was either traditional (Handel, Parry, Elgar) or contributed by major living composers of the time (Vaughan Williams, Walton, Bax, et al.) All (shock, horror) male. It was of high quality, made no pretence at populism, and created an effect of splendour and dignity. Even the music for the slightly embarrassing investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969 was ceremonial in the traditional style, by the then Master of the Queen’s Musick, Sir Arthur Bliss. How very different the arrangements for this May are to be.
Not only, according to the official royal website, are we to be delighted by a girls’ choir, a ‘hand-picked’ gospel choir, a ‘Byzantine chant ensemble’ (and , I believe I read somewhere, an LGBTQ choir), but there will be no less than 12 new commissions ‘by world-renowned British composers whose work includes Classical, Sacred, Film, Television and Musical Theatre’. With a strict 50% female quota, naturally, these ‘world-renowned’ names include several I have never heard of, plus purveyors of sacharine-soaked Classic FM-style pap like Patrick Doyle, Nigel Hess and Karl Jenkins, and culminating in the wonder of a new coronation anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber, composer of such masterpieces as ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. Purcell and Handel must indeed be spinning in their graves. Although there are a number of distinguished contemporary British composers available (the likes of James McMillan, Jonathan Dove, Thomas Ades, etc.) the only serious living composer of genuine stature to be represented in the whole ceremony seems to be Judith Weir, current ‘Master’ of the King’s Musick, who produced a beautful and touching anthem for the late Queen’s funeral – surely the obvious candidate for a new coronation anthem?
For those to whom coronation ceremony and music are unimportant, this might all seem rather unsignificant. On the contrary, I would say that this whole tacky project is perfectly symbolic of the state of this country now and for the foreseeable future. The monarchy – once the core of a fundamentally conservative establishment – is now to be the cornerstone of the facade that conceals the truly sinister and determined ‘progressive’ technocratic elite controlling and deciding everything in Britain today, operating an ever-burgeoning police state in which absolutely no-one is allowed to diverge from the approved ‘narrative’ and survive. While the last vestiges of our liberties are removed by the green-left and their globalist sponsors, the plebs are to be entertained by a dumbed-down version of our ancient traditions and the inane theatre of day-to-day politics. Talk about ‘bread and circuses’!
There is no escape. The only refuge now is in the minds of those who refuse to be co-opted – as long as they keep their mouths shut, that is. Meanwhile for viewing on Coronation Day I recommend the last dignified and decent royal ceremony we will ever see – the late Queen’s funeral (only dignified because she specified most of it herself). Or the film of the 1953 Coronation. Or even better, a jewel also to be found online – the Coronation of George VI, which took place in a world and a time when the term ‘woke’ would have been regarded merely as a gratuitous American mangling of the English language, and nothing more.