by Mary Harrington
Monday, 23
January 2023
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13:00

King Charles must represent the normie centre

The coronation ceremony is bound to annoy the culture warriors
by Mary Harrington
His Majesty is planning a very modern coronation. Credit: Getty.

The clickbaiters are already out in force looking for ways to be angry about the coronation of King Charles. Over the weekend the Telegraph reported that ‘refugees and the NHS’ would be ‘at the heart of a diverse celebration’ designed to include the ‘faces and voices of Britain’.

Reading more closely, it appears that such gestures are, in fact, really just some choirs that might be involved in one performance on one day in a three-day ceremony. But from a ‘trad’ point of view it doesn’t matter — the point is that the woke gesture has been made.


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From one perspective, we might wonder why Charles is bothering. For if the traditionalists and the harrumphers are now angry about supposed ‘woke’ changes, those already angry at the monarchy for existing are hardly likely to be mollified by homeopathic gestures toward identity politics. But if Charles’s proposals read like inexcusable wokeness to some, and inexcusable, stuffy tradition to others, that probably means he’s doing it right. Even if the monarchy feels like the most fragile of bulwarks against the disintegrative power of digital-era politics, it’s also, now, more or less the only one we have.

The culture warriors will likely always be slightly disappointed by whatever the King does, for the probably insurmountable reason that his rule remains constitutional, rather than absolute. Nothing short of reversing the Glorious Revolution will ever be “based” enough for the truly dedicated internet trad. By the same token, nothing short of full dissolution will mollify those for whom a hereditary monarch — even one with a purely ceremonial function — is a grotesque offence against pure egalitarianism.

But neither the extremely online Jacobites, nor their purse-lipped Guardianista republican antagonists, are a significant proportion of the actual British population. And when I think about how small-town Bedfordshire is likely to react to the coronation, I struggle to imagine arguments about its level of wokeness being more than a minor detail. On the contrary, thinking about local life here my sense is that ‘fairly traditional but not stuffily so, with some gestures toward modern-style inclusivity plus a big party and some pageantry’ is probably about right.

And in a sense this illustrates the impossible task Charles has ahead of him: that is, serving as whatever the opposite of culture war is. In an age where every incentive of press and online discourse is to seek out and amplify disagreement, his job is to maintain a laser-like focus on what we still have in common. And that, inevitably, is going to annoy the extremists and partisans all round.

So much the better. It’s easy enough to bemoan culture-war disintegration, and considerably more difficult to inhabit a role whose central purpose is resisting it. Here’s hoping Charles is able to continue serenely speaking past the internet loudmouths on all sides, to the vastly greater body of ‘normie’ Britons. To the extent that he can do so, he will continue to be our King.

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Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
15 days ago

Interesting article and I like the idea of a little bit of everything. If both extremes are getting upset then probably getting the balance about right.
Personally I like the fact we are a Constitutional Monarchy, think it suits the country well. For the Republicans amongst us; aren’t you lucky that for your dream to come true all that is needed is a successful campaign to get elected to parliament and then organise a successful referendum, win that and job done!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
15 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Yes, i’m not sure the monarchy is “the most fragile of bulwarks against the disintegrative power in digitial-era politics” as Mary claims. It certainly might become that if a monarch were to choose to intervene on one side or the other. Mary is therefore right in respect of her general point.
The power of our Constitutional Monarchy lies in its quiet, soft power, which nevertheless holds great appeal precisely as an unspoken counterweight to the tide of noise and tattle. Yes, that includes you Harry. His father is doing well to keep his own counsel on the blathering son.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Yeah she hugely overegged that. And the job ain’t ‘impossible’ either. Pretty straightforward really – keep schtum and smile for the cameras, job done.

Matt M
Matt M
15 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Nothing short of reversing the Glorious Revolution will ever be “based” enough for the truly dedicated internet trad.

I’m never sure about these “if you offending both sides you must be doing something right” articles. The BBC often uses it as its defence. Trouble here is that while there are lots (thankfully a minority) of Brits who would like to become a republic, I have never heard of a single person who would like to reverse the ascension of William III either because they want to revert to a Stuart monarchy or because they contest the constitutional settlement and want more political power for the crown.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
15 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

I can’t recall who wrote it now, but there was an interesting article in Unherd a few weeks ago about that very thing – arguing in favour of greater autocratic power, including for a monarch. Not that i agree with it.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Well, in this age, against the grasping hands of international global finance, multinational corporations, and the davos crowd to establish one planetary union under the Almighty dollar guided by the enlightened principles of secular materialism, I’ll take whatever opposition is available provided it’s at least marginally less swarm-ish and more accountable for its actions. Basically impossible for any one person to be a swarm and it’s generally hard for one to escape accountability for things they personally did, which is why autocracy holds a certain appeal, given one can find an acceptable autocrat, a significant proviso.

Andrew D
Andrew D
15 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

The current Stuart claimant to the throne is Franz, Duke of Bavaria – who’s 90 years old, and gay

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
15 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I’m beyond shocked that anybody even knows who it is. That surely proves that somebody must care. Does the Duke have any heirs, presumably not direct biological heirs given his proclivities, but perhaps some nieces or nephews or what have you.

Andrew D
Andrew D
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

No children, but I think there’s an heir apparent nephew

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Oh, I looked it up once. After all, Great Britain had a century of Old Pretenders and Young Pretenders and Even Younger Pretenders lurking around France and the Low Countries awaiting their chance, and I figured the mantle of King Over the Water must have been passed on down to someone.
Of course, if you accept A N Wilson’s contention that Queen Victoria was in actual fact the illegitimate child of her mother’s lover John Connaught, then every British ‘monarch’ of the past 190 years was a fraud with no right to be on the throne at all… and the true Hanoverian monarch is currently Ernst Augustus, Prince of Hanover.
Had Victoria not been born, btw, then the British Crown would not have been sundered from the Hanoverian one (Hannover had the Salic Law – no females qualified for their Crown). Bismarck would then never have succeeded in his plans for a Prussia-dominated united Germany, and we’d have had no Great War, let alone the six-year rematch 20 years later.

Last edited 14 days ago by Peter Joy
Gill Holway
Gill Holway
14 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Still?

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
14 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

In principle, you’re right. You’re unlikely to meet anyone who wants to reverse the Revolution of 1689. But a few dozen such pseuds and eccentrics do exist: see the Royal Stuart Society, head by the Duke of St Albans: http://www.royalstuartsociety.com
While I’m happy to agree with them on the illegitimacy – in multiple respects – of the so-called House of Windsor (post-Hanoverians), they are barking up the wrong tree with the Stuarto-Tudor dynasty. There hasn’t been a rightful King of England since Harold Godwinson….

Gill Holway
Gill Holway
14 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

I think the King has erred in that he has not designated a choir of journalists. That wuld keep them off our backs.

Rob N
Rob N
14 days ago

I can see the argument that he needs to remember that he is not just the King of the UK but also of various other countries and so this coronation is not just about the UK. However I believe that he is also making a large part for the Commonwealth. He is the Head of the Commonwealth because he was chosen to be NOT, automatically, because he is King of the UK and so technically that is not connected to his Coronation.
At the same time he must also remember that we still, for a few years at least, a mostly British Christian (if only cultural) country who cares about our past and tradition.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
14 days ago

“serving as whatever the opposite of culture war is.” Given that is the case then I see no reason for his ‘refugees and NHS’ remark or at least its report. I found it crass that it came at a time when most of those who support the monarchy are incensed with the boat migrants continued debacle, and if that wasn’t enough the NHS is demonstrably in a mess. It suggested a complete lack of awareness of the state of UK right now and his supporters’ attitude to it.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
15 days ago

Well said.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
14 days ago

Whatever you do, don’t ask people where they are really from.

Should be a gas, and a great global promotion of Brexit Britain (despite those working against it in government).

Last edited 14 days ago by Ian Stewart
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
14 days ago

It seems that the woke fifth column has now got King Charles in its grip, and we are to be presented with A diverse inclusive Coronation? Perhaps at the command ” Present Arms” The Foot Guards will in sharp co-ordination bring out their Gilette scimitar syringes, and the next drill order will be ” fix needles”, all to display empathy for poor drug abusing minorities?

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
14 days ago

He’s compromising. The ghastly nonsense will be at a concert in Windsor, not the Coronation itself. No one has to watch it. He’s enough of a traditionalist and a musician to keep that as it should be.

William Shaw
William Shaw
13 days ago

“… a grotesque offence against pure egalitarianism.”
Isn’t that the definition of segregated sports for women and the exclusion of trans-women?

Last edited 13 days ago by William Shaw
j watson
j watson
15 days ago

Yes quite a challenge to find the balance that brings a divided nation together at least for a day. For the vast majority a Coronation will be a new experience. The novelty will help paper over some serious cracks that the H&M saga has prised further apart, at least for a day. Those cracks are irreparable though
Firstly the Commonwealth is fracturing and passing of the Queen and the disappointment of what might have been a more representative Monarchy, momentarily encouraged by the H&M wedding, and now dashed, will only accelerate these fissures. The Commonwealth defined the Queen. It is crumbling.
Secondly the ‘cat is out of the bag’ on the symbiotic relationship the Palace has with the Press. The Palace so far has played dumb (not hard) but so long as they take exchequer payments the accountability and transparency question will persist. At some point they need to answer the allegation, and the leaking and unattributable Palace source briefings are continuing whilst the King and his Son try to adopt a sphinx like demeanour. Not buying it fellas. We know how it works now.

Last edited 15 days ago by j watson