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The old Chazzle Dazzle

On Saturday, I watched the Coronation of King Charles III.

Or Chazza’s Coro. Or the Corrie Nash. Brits still haven’t decided on a nickname. I’m quite partial to “the Chazzle Dazzle”.

If you’ve read this newspaper, you’ll know my thoughts on the monarchy. But I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for some pomp and pageantry. And I needed something in the background while catching up on the baby knitting.

Some observations. Top marks for organisation – the whole affair was clearly timed down to the last second [apart from the Wales whanau running late]. Props to the Household Cavalry Mounted Band: Anyone able to keep an instrument in tune while staying upright on a horse has my respect.

The service was…long. I made it to Camilla’s crowning before shuffling off to bed. But there were some lovely moments.

King Charles kept his word to diversify the ceremony: With the addition of a Black gospel choir, a Greek Orthodox chant, and the presentation of relics from leaders of different religious communities. It was great to see choirs made up of male and female choristers, who arguably did most of the heavy lifting [there were a lot of hymns]. Speaking of, Tory MP Penny Mourdant pulled focus as the bearer of the State Sword, winning praise from both sides of the aisle. Again, respect – holding an upraised 17th-century weapon for the best part of two hours, without even shuffling one’s feet, is no small accomplishment.

There were some funny moments. Prince Louis pulling faces. The brave soul in the Grim Reaper costume spotted walking the halls ahead of the ceremony. Archbishop Justin Welby struggling with the crown, and Katy Perry struggling to find her seat. Celebrities – just like us.

A reasonably enjoyable evening. But this wouldn’t be Young[ish], Scrappy and Hungry without some critiques of The Firm.

For all its modernisation, some parts of the ceremony rang a bit hollow. The opening of the Archbishop’s sermon was not lost on me: “Jesus Christ announced a Kingdom in which the poor and oppressed are freed from the chains of injustice. That Kingdom sets the aims of all righteous government, all authority.”

As a champion of the environment, Charles has done his part to fight injustice. But what, amid record inflation, would Britons struggling to keep the power on make of this sermon – much less the coronation’s 100 million pound price tag? What about the anti-monarchy protesters, now facing long prison sentences for exercising a democratic right?

What about the generations of Commonwealth communities chained by the effects of British colonial rule? Charles is yet to acknowledge last week’s letter from indigenous leaders [including our own Rawiri Waititi], demanding acknowledgement “of the legacy of genocide and colonisation of Indigenous and enslaved peoples” and repatriation of artefacts and remains. What about the British descendants of the trans-Atlantic slave trade – oppressed by deprivation, police brutality, and racially motivated assault? What role of service does the monarchy play in their lives?

TV1 correspondent Mei Heron said it best: The protests are a reminder that “the Royal Family has lots to do in terms of staying relevant”. It’s one thing to hold an elegant pageant with inspiring Bible verses and different coloured faces. It’s another to own your institution’s role in the injustice those coloured faces are confronted with. A righteous government rules for all, does it not?

It’s fair to say the Chazzle Dazzle ran smoothly. Now it’s time for Chaz and Co to bring their commitment to diversity out of Westminster Abbey and into the real world. Otherwise, that Grim Reaper could be a premonition.

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

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