‘Institution over the individual’: Peter Stefanovic reveals the mood

A little under eight months ago Queen Elizabeth II had her funeral in London. 

It was a sight for the ages, long planned for, and delivered with military precision.

It had heart. It had feeling. It had tens of thousands of people who lined the procession route watching in silence as the “funeral march” thundered from the band.

There was occasional soft applause, as the coffin was pulled along the mall, a respectful thank you to a popular monarch for a life spent on duty.

I was in the crowd that day. I’d met the Queen before. I marvelled at the sheer spectacle of it all. I’d never seen anything like it.

The guard, of course, has now changed.

Charles is King. We’ve watched him age over many years as he waited and waited – longer than any other monarch – for his time to ascend the throne.

Charles III was born into privilege and has lived a complicated life – one that most of us probably wouldn’t want – but this weekend is his moment.

And so that procession returns, the golden carriage dusted off, the band will march to a different tune – one much more uplifting – and thousands upon thousands of people will fill the city to watch London turn another page in its rich and storied history.

But given the sense of occasion that’s upon us the city itself has been quiet this week.

I’ve wondered if it’s really that into it.  Royal appearances have been irregular, media coverage has been soft.

A King is about to be crowned for the first time in almost a century. I suppose I expected a bit more “buzz”.

Those in charge of dressing up the city have done an admiral job. They always do.

There’s the usual displays of red whites and blues, the bunting in shopfronts, Union Jacks draped perfectly over the capital streets, plus an impressive array of Commonwealth flags up and down the Mall.

The famous Dorchester Hotel with its many royal links has dressed up its exterior to mimic its own decorations from Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation of 1953.

That’s how long ago the last one was.

Maybe the people are just pacing themselves. To be fair, there has been royal overload of late – the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, and her death shortly after, plus the constant headline grabbing shenanigans of Harry and Meghan.

Then there’s the “Charles” factor – he’s just not as popular as other members of his family.

I’m certain folks will turn out on the day, because it’s the institution rather than the individual that most people are taken by. If not in the city to watch the parade, then certainly at the many street parties planned for this weekend.

Most of us have never seen the Coronation of an English monarch. In that sense, like a royal jewel, they are rare indeed.

Many of us may never see another one again, until it’s William’s turn.

I’ve watched many a royal parade during my many visits to London. Weddings, funerals, state visits.

Britain is about to do what it does best.

Pomp and pageantry like no other, and I for one, am looking forward to it.

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