The British monarchy lives under pressure. Ongoing scandals and waning support from a younger generation suggest an outdated institution with little relevance in the modern era. Surrounded by pomp and pageantry, King Charles III’s coronation weekend is a golden opportunity for the monarchy to show the British public the value it continues to hold.
The three days of the coronation weekend, from May 6 to 8, will be packed with activities that could reinforce the image and brand of the monarchy. This type of festive act encourages “feelings, fantasy and fun”key aspects of the most engaging consumer experiences, and make no mistake: the crowning glory is a consumer experience.
Each day has been cleverly designed to inspire a series of feelings and responses that encourage people to engage with the royal family brand. This commitment is crucial, because a constitutional monarchy like the UK’s depends on public support to continue to exist. Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than with a number of Commonwealth (Editor’s Note: umbrella organization of 54 independent and semi-independent countries with historical ties to the UK) countries distancing themselves from the British monarch as their head of state. .
At its heart, the weekend will be about creating personalized experiences and memories around the monarchy. In the past, these memories were preserved in scrapbooks and photo albums to be passed down from generation to generation. Now they are shared on social networks. But they continue to link friends and family from one generation to the next, and ensure that the monarchy remains embedded in British culture.
Saturday: the pomp and the royal feeling
The central act of the weekend is the coronation in Westminster Abbey, where King Charles III and Queen Camilla will be crowned.
Beginning with the procession from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey, the resplendent visual spectacle uses carefully orchestrated pomp and circumstance to remind viewers of the magic of the monarchy.
As the Diamond Jubilee State Coach (the enclosed six-horse carriage built to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday), first, and then the Gold State Coach (an eight-horse carriage commissioned in 1760 by the King George III) carrying the king and queen consort proceeds along the royal route, many animated viewers will let their minds drift back to the fairy tales of their childhood.
But perhaps the most lasting feeling generated at this time is the sense of stability and continuity that these traditional parades symbolize. The historian David Starkey has written the monarchy as “the only continuous lens through which the history of England can be viewed.”
Heritage is the key asset of the royal family, and the coronation of King Carlos III is another important link in its more than a thousand years of history.
As a testament to the “white power” of the monarchy, the expected 2,000 guests will include foreign dignitaries and world leaders taking their places in the abbey alongside members of the royal family, although, following historical precedent, US President Joe Biden will not be among them.
The ceremony, broadcast around the world, reminds us of the global reach of the British monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, the first fully televised, reached 27 million viewers and 11 million radio listeners. Millions of Londoners and visitors flooded the streets of London to witness the event. We can expect similar crowds for Carlos and Camilla.
Sunday: street parties in Great Britain
For many people, the main event of the weekend will be meeting the neighbors on Sunday, when street parties take place all over the UK. These have become a crucial component of royal acts. The official coronation website encourages people to participate in the Great Coronation Luncheon, offering downloadable material to help plan and inspire creativity.
Street parties are not only frequented by royalists. Many participants will be there simply to enjoy mingling with others and having fun. Some may even be republicans or critics of the monarchy.
A study on the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 found that a street party brought its community of “partiers” together precisely because of their aversion to the monarchy. The same study showed that the main objective in organizing a street party was to unite local communities and embrace diversity, rather than to celebrate a common national identity.
This is also the announced purpose of the coronation concert on Sunday night at Windsor Castle, which “It will showcase the country’s diverse cultural heritage in music, theater and dance.” It is especially important for the future of the monarchy that its main asset, the British heritage, is interpreted in more diverse ways than before if its relevance is to be maintained.
To make the concert as inclusive as possible, it is likely to feature a smorgasbord of performers from across Britain and the Commonwealth. The coronation choir that will also perform at the concert is an excellent example of this. It features members of the refugee and LGBTQ+ communities, and will be supported by a virtual choir made up of singers from across the Commonwealth.
Using high-tech drone lighting and other sophisticated effects across the country, the organizers hope to convey to viewers a message of national unity, rather than identity.
Monday: the day dedicated to public service
A local volunteer day on May 8 closes the coronation weekend. With it, the king will show his dedication to public service. The “Big Help” is advertised as a way to inspire community building and support for local areas.
The effort should appeal to Generation Z, who are the most disaffected by the monarchy and consider it an outdated institution. Regular volunteers and generous charitable donors, these young men are more for deeds than words. Your support will be crucial to the future survival of the monarchy.
By Pauline Maclaran, Professor of Marketing & Consumer Research at Royal Holloway University of London
More information at gente.com.ar