Royal Events Wot I’ve Known

This weekend we have a Coronation. First of its kind in decades and another example of why the world thinks of us as Disney with embroidery.

My parents, with many other thousands, watched the last coronation on a small screen that seemed a technological miracle. Today many will do the same, watch the events on a small screen, this one such a technological marvel that we don’t appreciate its genius. Ironic, in its way.

I’ve been around long enough to have experienced a few of these things, sub-optimal though most have been. But here are a few memories of moments of pageantry during my years:

The Investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales 1968, was it?

I remember nothing apart from how pink faced Charles seemed, even in black and white. I think mum recommended face powder next time

The wedding of Princess Anne

Dreadful day in 1973. We were given the day off school; mum timed a delivery of the most fissile cow manure for the same morning. The delivery lorry misjudged the dumping (I use that expression advisably) and put it on the road. Motorists were surprised by the organic roundabout. Mum insisted the Archaeologist and I barrowed it down the garden before we could enjoy our day off.

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee 1977

I was in Bristol, revising for my solicitor’s exams while living with my then girlfriend, now spouse. I knew that revising in the University law library which was possible would lead to me being constantly interrupted by old colleagues, so I found a spot in the University library amongst the psychologists and sociologists. For some reason, I recall avoiding the celebrations for four hours until the body odour of the fellow student, next to whom I was sitting became so intolerable I gave in and went to a pub on St Michel’s Hill where I watched some desultory carriages doing carriagy things in light rain and drinking shite beer. It sort of summed up the state of Britain and the monarchy at the time

The wedding of Charles and Di 1981

I had been working at Freshfields for about three months and on the sultry night before, I cycled home along the route from St Paul’s to the Palace, before they shut the road. I’ve never been cheered and waved at by so many. To say the atmosphere was giddy is to misunderstand a certain type of demented Brit who not only queues to order but sits behind barricades and waits the dawn; must a legacy of Empire and all those battles and wars we fought to collect the ephemera that are now part of the coronation. I wonder, if the goodies used at the coronation were all sourced domestically how sparkling the whole thing would be? Even the King is part German, for pity sake; we can’t even make our own Royal.

The funeral of Di 1997

I reprised the cycle route this time from Westminster Abbey to the palace. Inevitably the mood was sombre and less that comfortable. No one waved, very few made eye contact. It was pretty emotional at the palace, the smell of the wall of flowers being sickly and cloying. We watched the funeral on the TV; I spoke to my parents after, remarking on the very visible outpouring of grief from the crowd. Mum didn’t approve; grief wasn’t something you beat your chest in public over. It wasn’t British, by her standards. I was brought up to that way of thinking but watching it unfold I thought there was something really visceral about it that a pandemic of stiff upper lips couldn’t capture.

The Queen’s Golden Jubilee 2002

Nope, I can’t remember it at all, beyond we had our first and so far last street party. I met all sorts of nearly neighbours who’d lived on the same road as me for the decade I’d lived here at the time, one or two lawyers I knew professionally but I’d never seen locally. Felt both a bit weird and I promised myself I’d not let that happen again. I’d get to know my nearly neighbours. I lied to myself. If they still live here, I’ve no better idea now than I did then.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 2012

Stupid boat trip down the Thames and bloody cold and wet and nearly gave Her Maj pneumonia. As a warm up act for the Olympics it seemed shambolic; happily it didn’t presage a similar level of incompetence for the Games. There was one of those concerts in the Mall with an odd selection of music acts. My most abiding memory was to think Elton John shouldn’t sing live anymore

The marriage of William and Kate

Her sister’s bottom seemed to become, overnight, a royal icon. I assume it will take some part in the coronation, perhaps a cake stand.

The funeral of The Duke of Edinburgh

The Queen sitting on her own in the pews at the Chapel at Windsor castle because of the covid restrictions. Mum would have approved at the absence of histrionics.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022

Everything about it was extraordinary; the fact of it happening at all the most. And Paddington. Still makes me sniff…

The funeral of the Queen

That queue. The slow TV experience of watching the mourners shuffle past the coffin was oddly engrossing. The Queen’s ponies bowing as the coffin passed on its way to Windsor was the point when the sniffles started. Sorry mum, I’m no longer the man you trained. And I took in the flowers in Green Park after. I’m a half-baked royalist at the best of times yet she’d always been there. And then she wasn’t.

There have been others. They don’t stick. Maybe that says more about me than them, but I like to think it’s because, over the sweep of one’s life they’re really pretty irrelevant.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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26 Responses to Royal Events Wot I’ve Known

  1. joylennick says:

    Well documented, Geoff. My first experience of street parties, arrived in 1937, when I was five. It was, apparently, to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI and his Queen. Fast forward to February, 1953 when ‘im indoors and I were wed We dined (all delicious) to the music of a four-piece band, with not a partridge or grouse in sight…7o guests joined us, and in the June, we watched our landlord’s 12 inch television set for the first time as Queen Elizabeth was crowned. We celebrated our 70 happy years together in February with our three, worthy sons, their partners, other family members and friends. I too, am only a half-hearted royalist, but ever curious and fascinated by history and people generally. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. iamthesunking says:

    I need to know more about the horse manure!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. noelleg44 says:

    I probably dropped in on most of these events, usually in news broadcasts afterward – except for the weddings and the Queen’s and Diana’s funeral. We watched some of the coronation today – it was pretty extravagant but entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. willowdot21 says:

    I think you have summed it up perfectly Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I watched QEII’s coronation on a twelve-inch screen. I was 12, and the spectacle was entertaining for sure. Your recap is terrific.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. trifflepudling says:

    I enjoyed yesterday very much – the ceremony was so interesting and unlike anything most of us had ever seen. You only ever see small bits (and usually the same small selection) of the 1953 coronation. Bunting all sold out here ages ago.
    I remember all the same events as you, of course, but re my parents (I wasn’t even a merry thought at that stage), they watched The Queen’s coronation from his office on the procession route and on a tiny tv in the board room. Someone arranged delivery of hampers (of such nice food as was available in 1953).
    Like you, my eyes fill up at the mere thought of the late HM but thought they all did a wonderful job yesterday.
    I might write down all my memories too – thanks!
    Investiture was 1969. We watched it on tv in the Hall at svhool.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. trifflepudling says:

    ps Prince Philip was never the same after that river Pageant when he refused to wear a coat!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I missed the whole series of events, despite being nearly the same age as Charles.(How did he get so old with me staying the same.) I did occasionally see the contrast between his first and second wives. I see his sons lean more towards the looks of the first!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think the funeral of the queen would have been a good place to stop given all the recent fiascos with the British Royals. However, I note that the Royal family is still fascinating to many and that the Coronation made a net profit for the UK.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I’m old enough to know royal and fiasco are umbilically linked. And for all its stupidity and nonsense it still polls as one of our popular institutions. It’ll keep going for now.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Anne Goodwin says:

    An entertaining summary – certainly more entertaining than the events themselves.
    Your cycling down the whatever before the road closed reminds me of arriving in Calcutta shortly before the Pope. I’d arrived by train but somehow had to travel down airport road in a taxi.

    Liked by 1 person

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