5 May, 2023 @ 19:39
4 mins read

THE TIRED KING? Will Brits in Spain swear their allegiance to King Charles tomorrow, or do they have monarchy fatigue?

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THE coronation of King Charles III, taking place tomorrow, is a historic event. It is also polarising opinion amongst Brits.

Unless you’re over 70, this will be your first UK coronation. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, while Britain was navigating the post-war period.

After serving as the UK’s longest reigning monarch, Elizabeth died in September 2022, aged 96. Charles has waited ‘in the wings’ a long time.

Now aged 74, Charles is the oldest monarch to be crowned in the UK. He’s taking over a country that bears very little resemblance to the one his mother inherited. And, unlike in Elizabeth’s day, coronations aren’t universally loved. The one tomorrow has a low public approval rating.

It doesn’t help that the pomp and ceremony is depleting £50-100m from the public purse during a cost-of-living crisis. Tradition dictates that the government must foot the bill.

We’re told that this massive spend will be recouped through ‘increased tourism’. However, playing the old tourism card hasn’t quelled cries of “why can’t Charles pay for it himself” when he has an estimated net worth of around £2.3 billion.

Declining popularity

According to YouGov, only 55% of Brits like Charles, compared to 80% who liked Queen Elizabeth. His rating has dropped from 61% when he was Prince of Wales.

Meanwhile, only 9% care about the coronation “a great deal”, 24% “a fair amount”, 35% “not very much” and 29% “not at all”.

There’s also an age factor. While 79% of over-65s back the monarchy, younger Brits aren’t so keen. Only 36% of 18-24s want a monarch, while 40% would prefer an elected head of state.

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The over-65s are more royalist. Image: Midjourney / Jo Chipchase

Tomorrow, anti-monarchy protestors are planning to stand outside the coronation, waving “not my king” placards. There has already been controversy over how the police handled previous peaceful protests (by arresting people, one of whom was carrying a blank A4 sheet).

Other problems – rogue family members

The rot doesn’t stop there, as the royal family has other problems to face. For example, how to handle Harry and Meghan. Those who don’t live in a cave will be aware of the Netflix series and book palaver. While Harry is attending the coronation, Meghan is tactfully staying at home.

Even more controversial: Prince Andrew is turning up; despite being mired in the Epstein fallout. Although he’s not allowed on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, as he’s no longer a working royal, his presence will no doubt trigger some people.

There’s also the issue of Camilla Parker Bowles, the new Queen. She is liked by a mere 38% of Brits and disliked by 29%. She may never be forgiven by some people for replacing Lady Diana.

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Camilla and horse. Photo: Midjourney / Jo Chipchase

While being asked to perform at royal events was previously a huge honour, some recording artists have declined the invitation from Charles to appear at his coronation gig. These include Elton John, who was a friend of Lady Di, Harry Styles, Adele, the Spice Girls, and Robbie Williams.

Big PR blunder?

With these difficulties in mind, it is a strange PR move (possibly a blunder) that the British public has been invited to swear their allegiance to Charles on his big day.

Lambeth Palace has added a new “homage of the people” to the ceremony, instead of the usual homage of the peers.

The oath, to be followed by a ‘fanfare’, is: “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors, according to law. So, help me God.” The Archbishop of Canterbury will then proclaim: “God Save The King”, and people are supposed to respond, “God Save King Charles”, creating a “chorus of millions”.

You could be forgiven for thinking this sounds like something out of Game of Thrones.

There’s an obvious problem: millions of British citizens don’t believe in God. In 2021, only 46.2% of the British population identified as Christian. Although the palace says it is trying to “include people” with the new oath, over 53.8% are locked out from the start.

It’s not plain sailing ahead!

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Pearly kings. Photo: Midjourney / Jo Chipchase


What do Brits in Spain think?

The UK’s last mayor royal event, the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth, provoked some bizarre behaviours. These included The Queue, with people waiting 24hrs to pay their respects beside the coffin at Westminster Abbey, and thousands of marmalade sandwiches left to rot in public spaces, because the Queen liked Paddington Bear.

Many Brits in Spain watched the antics across the English Channel in amazement.

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Paddington chaos. Image: Midjourney / Jo Chipchase

Is it the same this time round? Predictably, yes. Especially concerning the idea of swearing allegiance, which has attracted some ripe comments.

“Given the state of the UK at present, I think it´s quite tone deaf and rather dystopian,” said Lucy Hayes Logan of the Tus Alpujarras advice agency.

“It’s as bad as forced mourning,” said Pam Lipmann of Lanjaron.

“It’s past the sell-by date,” said Alistair Lough of Lecrin. “I know people here who are holding a flag-waving coronation party with sausage rolls. I won’t be going.”

A few Brits told the Olive Press that Charles should be swearing allegiance to the people, not the other way around. This would seem logical – a two-way dialogue.

However, some expats think that the naysaying is just hot air.

Richard Hill said: “What’s the problem? Nobody is being told or forced to do it. It’s an offer, a suggestion, for those that want to be included.”

Zoe Green added: “I’d be horrified if it were actually mandatory, but since it isn’t, I think there’s a big fuss being made about nothing.”

Swearing allegiance to Spain

Tim Simon, who moved to the UK from the Alpujarra, pointed out that when people take Spanish citizenship, they must swear allegiance to the Spanish king. He has a fair point.

The Spanish citizenship oath is the last step in the process of obtaining nationality, and the applicant must swear to respect the Spanish constitution, the king, and the legal system in general. This is called ‘jura de nacionalidad’, and it’s obligatory and formal.

However, swearing an oath in a darkened functionary’s office, just before you change your residential status, doesn’t have the same undertone as asking a divided and struggling nation to unite behind an elderly monarch, with a low popularity rating, during difficult times. And to sing their support, loud and clear, while flag-waving.

Give a thought for the people in North Korea. Don’t want to swear allegiance to an authoritarian leader? It could be “off with your head”.

Jo Chipchase

Jo Chipchase freelanced for internet and lifestyle publications in the UK, and for Living Spain magazine, and was co-founder of Press Dispensary. She lives in the Alpujarra mountains of Andalucia with her teenage sons, dogs and a horse. Contact [email protected]

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