Amidst the current Cost-Of-Living crisis several commentators have been critical of the King’s Coronation, a theme I have also seen within several Maidstone & The Weald constituents’ letters in my post bag.
On a straight cost analysis, estimates for the coronation are mooted at around £100 million, although the government has yet to publish any firm figures. It is a large sum for sure, but the event is also expected to generate much more than that; Analysis by hospitality platform SevenRooms.com suggests an extra £2.6 billion in consumer spending could be generated by the coronation long weekend. Visit Britain also reported that Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations last year brought in an extra 2.6 million visitors to London, and the coronation is expected to follow suit. If each visitor (very conservatively) spends £100 each, that generates £260 million in extra revenue alone.
There is also a mood amongst some that ‘relevance’ is another issue, particularly amonst the younger population. They argue that King Charles is ‘out-of-date’ and ‘out-of-touch’, and that his privileged position is un-democratic – leaning instead toward the republican state model.
Well, I can only speak from personal experience of our new King. I have had the pleasure of meeting His Majesty on several occasions since I went into politics in 2008, most recently just last week at a pre-coronation lunch with the Queen Consort, MPs and Peers in the Houses of Parliament. From our conversations over the years, I can say he is most certainly in touch with the issues of the day. Moreover, he has shown himself to be a lifelong visionary, particularly on vital global subjects such as climate change, the environment and biodiversity. Out of touch? No.
On the democracy issue, monarchies have an overarching and vital raison d’être, way beyond elected leaders. Journalist Serge Schmemann wrote in the New York Times; ‘Monarchs can rise above politics in the way an elected head of state cannot. Monarchs represent the whole country in a way democratically elected leaders cannot and do not’.
King Charles is a man of great charm, warmth, empathy and humanity. The wisdom that comes from his 74 years of royal life, and his long-term relationships with other leaders on the world stage, gives Great Britain and the Commonwealth a special, perhaps unique, layer of global diplomacy. And in his weekly conversations with the Prime Minister, he provides valuable opinion and a unique non-partisan insight on sensitive and important issues facing the UK, at home and abroad.
So, what do I think about the coronation? I think it is great for our country, for our people and for world diplomacy. King Charles is a good man, a great asset to our nation, he has my true allegiance and I wish him Godspeed throughout his reign.