King Charles has come face-to-face with a group of unruly protestors upset at the cost of his upcoming coronation.
The monarch visited Milton Keynes, a commuter suburb northwest of London, to celebrate it being granted the status of a city.
He attended the event alone on Thursday (local time) because Queen Consort Camilla was recovering from her second bout of COVID-19.
What was expected to be a warm, celebratory outing was marred by a group of boisterous protestors.
The crowd heckled Charles, yelling “Not My King” as he did a meet-and-greet.
They also held up caricatures of Charles, printed with the words “not fit for purpose”.
The King appeared unfazed, with local newspaper The Milton Keynes Citizen reporting that he “ignored the small banner-waving group” of around 20 spectators.
Parts of the crowd tried to drown out the protestors’ cries with loud chants of “God Save The King” upon the King’s arrival.
The demonstration was co-ordinated by the Republic group, which wants to see the monarchy “abolished” and the King “replaced with an elected, democratic head of state”.
While the King was able to disregard the disruption, the group say they are planning a bigger protest on the day of his coronation.
Republic CEO Graham Smith told the BBC the group is aiming to use smaller ralliess to raise awareness for their Coronation Day protest.
‘Why are you wasting money?’
One cause for contention is the coronation’s taxpayer-funded price tag for the national celebration and ceremony set for May 6 at Westminster Abbey.
One protestor reportedly asked the monarch: “Why are you wasting money on a coronation, Charles?”
In light of the current cost-of-living crisis in the UK, palace sources said in September that the King wanted a “less expensive”, slimmed-down coronation.
The late Queen’s coronation in 1953 spared no expense and was attended by around 8000 guests. However, a far more condensed guest list of 2000 VIPs are expected to join the King for his coronation.
But even with a shorter guest list, royal experts predict the King’s coronation could still cost British taxpayers around £100 million ($175 million).
Republic say they have informed authorities of their intent to protest at Westminster Abbey on the day of the coronation, which they say has “no place” in modern British society.
Tactful change of plans
Despite the outside noise, Buckingham Palace is powering ahead with its plans for the big day.
Charles will wear the St Edward’s Crown during his coronation, regarded as the centrepiece of the Crown Jewels. The crown was last donned by Elizabeth at her coronation in 1953.
Customarily, incoming consorts are fitted with new crowns ahead of their coronations.
But the palace has chosen to break tradition with Camilla’s crown, announcing on Wednesday that she would instead be crowned with an up-cycled and resized version of Queen Mary’s crown.
The crown is currently being resized and adorned with diamonds from Queen Elizabeth’s personal collection in a tribute to the late monarch.
The Palace said the decision was made “in the interests of sustainability and efficiency”. But it’s far more likely that this was done to avoid controversy.
Initially, Buckingham Palace had planned for the Queen Consort to wear the Queen Mother’s crown at the upcoming coronation. But this reportedly changed because of the controversy about the crown’s centrepiece, the Koh-i-Noor diamond.
Several countries lay claim to the 105-carat jewel, with it having changed hands between India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan over hundreds of years.
India has made several claims to the gem, and there were concerns that using it during the coronation of Camilla could cause a diplomatic row.
The royal wardrobe
There are rumours the King will scrap another royal tradition by wearing his military outfit during the coronation.
A more modern wardrobe would make sense, given the Palace’s assertion the ceremony will “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future”.
However, there has been no formal confirmation about the King’s wardrobe – meaning he may wear traditional ceremonial clothing.
The collection includes the Colobium Sindonis and the Supertunica, a full-length coat made of gold silk cloth.
These would then be topped with the coronation regalia – the sacred objects used during the coronation ceremony.
The King would wear the coronation bracelets, the stole, and hold the royal orb.
He would also be wearing a number of royal robes throughout the coronation in a specific order.
This sequence was established for Edward II’s 1308 coronation, and laid out in the 14th century manuscript Liber Regalis.
During the coronation, the King would also be presented with the coronation ring, sceptre with the cross, and the rod with the dove.
The King’s official coronation emblem has been unveiled, giving a nod to the monarch’s many years of environmental campaigning when he was the Prince of Wales.
But as King, Charles has acknowledged that it is “no longer possible” for him to give so much time to charitable causes.
The causes close to his heart are revealed in the coronation emblem that features flora from the four nations of the United Kingdom. It includes the rose of England, thistle of Scotland, the daffodil of Wales and the shamrock of Northern Ireland.
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