Whether motivated by Britain’s grim economic outlook, Charles’ lower popularity numbers than his late mother, or, as is most likely, a combination of the two, royal mania hasn’t gripped Britain in the same way as it did during events when the late queen was on the throne.
Most royal experts don’t believe the monarchy is about to crumble. But many agree that support, visibility and relevance does matter for the royals. The alternative is that people look at the golden carriages, the multimillion-pound crown jewels and the palaces, and ask: What is this all for?
Further evidence of this apathy can be seen in the dozen or so coronation events around the U.K. that have been canceled due to a lack of demand for tickets. That’s according to a Facebook search that likely is a small sample of the true total of abandoned parties.
Under gray skies and British drizzle, a green space on London’s King’s Road that had been set aside for coronation picnics was still entirely empty by midday (7 a.m. ET). On the A12, a busy highway linking London and the neighboring county of Essex, motorists were greeted with a large spray-painted banner reading “DOWN WITH THE CROWN.”
Around 180 miles west of the epic pageantry in London, on Wales’ remote and wild west coast, putting on a royal event seemed like a slam dunk, particularly after the popularity of a similar event for the queen’s jubilee last year. The plan for Aberaeron Yacht Club was to have a traditional “tea by the sea” — “tea” in this instance meaning an “afternoon tea” comprising sandwiches, scones and of course that quintessential British gin-based cocktail, Pimms, all for 17 pounds (around $21).
“Limited tickets are available, so book early to avoid disappointment!” the poster said. That was far from the case.
“We put an advert out but I don’t think we had half a dozen responses,” said Amanda Harvey, 59, the club’s bartender. “People like the royals but I don’t think Charles is as popular. The queen’s jubilee last year was sold out — this time it’s been a different story.”
Across Britain, streets are decked with union flag bunting and royalist displays in shop windows, but the décor is noticeably more muted and scaled back than at the queen’s platinum jubilee last year, when it felt like the whole country was festooned in paraphernalia.
There are more than 600 street parties, according to the official coronation website. But many seem to be more of an excuse to celebrate a long holiday weekend and share a drink with neighbors, with only a passing mention of Charles in the event blurb.
Lily Blue Gifts, a store in Hagley, central England, also summed up the inclusive, royal-agnostic theme: “Whether you’re a true royalist or just love a party with a theme and an extra day off work, we’ve got you covered.”
In Hackney, London’s notoriously hipster east London borough, an “Alternative Coronation” celebration was already underway at Chats Palace arts center at 10 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET). This event was far more centered on celebrating those attending rather than showing any subservience to the king.
“We all deserve a crown!” its flier said.
“The idea is it’s a safe space for all families in Hackney to come together, no matter what shape or size your family is,” said Perdie Bargh, a producer of the event, which includes arts and crafts, a royal photo booth, and a drag queen storytelling show.
Did Bargh put on the event because she’s a royalist?
“Listen, I’m a producer and I love a theme,” she said. “And this is a great theme!”