Columnists are rather rude. We just show up in your newspaper, which has been paid for and definitely not stolen from the lobbies of the better hotels, and start listing off feelings we’re having and the facts that have produced them. It’s a bad habit for a dinner guest, and it’s just as gauche in the printed press.
I was hoping someone would introduce me but it looks like I’ll have to go it alone. The name’s Vicky, and thank you for having me here. The place is beautiful and your children are mostly well-behaved.
I wanted to talk to you all, so I’ve been reading the news, and I heard about the coronation that is being held on May 6. Now, I have been known to enjoy a white tribal custom or two: A stag-and-doe? Sign me up. A pumpkin festival? All over it. Some kind of activity in a barn? Just teach me what a “cornhole” is and I’ll merrily play along. I have dabbled in everything from hay-wagon rides to bush parties.
A coronation, then, seems like a unique cultural rite to witness. I find it has provoked in me a recurring existential crisis: What does one wear to the ball? Wanting to prepare, I have been searching the news for clues.
I was thrilled to stumble upon a headline from British tabloid the Express that said, “King Charles set to wear ‘more modern outfit’ for coronation – going against tradition.” This was designed to incense me – much of the internet is an attention algorithm, and it feels like its architects would have, in another generation, been kept busy as prison camp guards – and it worked.
Some machine out there apparently knows that my brain will glitch and froth in the two-word gap between “modern” and “coronation.” Frankly, a “more modern” coronation is like an “upbeat” lynching; how you describe the thing largely depends on where you are in the crowd.
I click on the article.
The modern outfit under debate by one of the remaining royal houses of Europe is described as “relaxed and subtle.” And you know what? I get it. They’re going to use the Abbey, but no worries, it’s going to be super chill. It’s the crowning of a new monarch, the beginning of a new reign, but it doesn’t have to be, like, too much. The vibe will be: casual champagne brunch meets low-key Olympics opening ceremony. (The last event involving this family that I attended via television – Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry – had so many Black people: There was a whole gospel choir and everything. Super cultural.)
The Express reports further: He’ll be wearing a military uniform. Subtle. Relaxed. Modern. As the young people I eavesdrop on might say, he understood the assignment. I’m 80 per cent sure I’m using that correctly.
Now that I have a sense of both the host’s outfit and the general vibe, I can attend to the power and majesty of the coronation itself.
When Charles is crowned, the hearts of little white boys who never imagined that they too could be a king will soar. “If he can do it, so can I,” a boy named Blaize will say to himself. The Todds of the world will walk a little more confidently after Saturday. Sitting around the TV at breakfast, a little boy will learn that with hard work, focus, time and passion, he too can be given a fake job at any stage of his life. Representation matters. It’s every little boy’s dream.
I’m especially concerned about one little boy in particular. For people named Charles, this coronation is an unquestioned boon, a payoff after years of relative obscurity. Like a number of Kenyans born during the colonial era, my dad was named after the Queen’s newborn son. Along with a fondness for fine silk ties, my father and I both have royal namesakes; his is a living breathing man (who, according to divine providence, is better than you personally, which honestly? Sounds probable) while mine shows up mostly as a stern statue outside a legislature, or as the capital of British Columbia.
I asked him what the coronation meant to the Charles community, and I was struck by the first thing he said: This is the moment to celebrate many of us who have matured and who will be taking over the leadership of the world.
How sweet; they think they’ve matured.
A grown man believes he’s a King and we’re all going to applaud. But, as my daddy said, they will be taking over the leadership of the world. Yikes.