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UK Marks Coronation With Street Parties and Concert

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Two women wearing crowns have a cup of tea on Windsor high street ahead of a Coronation Big Lunch organised in Windsor, on May 7, 2023. - Thousands of local street parties were planned on May 7, 2023 on the second day of events to mark the coronation of King Charles III, ending with a concert in front of 20,000 people at Windsor Castle. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

Tens of thousands of street parties were scheduled for Sunday as Britain celebrated King Charles III’s coronation ahead of a 20,000-person concert at Windsor Castle.

Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 75, will host a private celebration after days of back-to-back diplomatic receptions, garden parties, and rehearsals for Saturday’s event at Westminster Abbey.

They will then attend the evening concert at London’s Castle.

The coronation of Charles as monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth countries across the world was the first in the United Kingdom in 70 years.

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Members of the public have their photographs taken in a Coronation Selfie booth at a street party in Chiswick, west London, as part of the Coronation Big Lunch, on May 7, 2023. – Thousands of local street parties were planned on May 7, 2023 on the second day of events to mark the coronation of King Charles III, ending with a concert in front of 20,000 people at Windsor Castle. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

The glittering ceremony, steeped in 1,000 years of tradition and ritual, was attended by global royalty and world leaders.

But Sunday’s events are a shift in emphasis.

While the coronation ceremony has its roots in the England of 1066, the “Big Lunch” parties look to bring modern Britain’s communities closer.

Community spirit

Monday has been declared a public holiday, so folks may party on Sunday without worrying about a hangover.

Buckingham Palace stated that Charles and Camilla hope the long weekend “will provide an opportunity to spend time and celebrate with friends, families, and communities.”

Following the hardships of post-World War II, street parties were a key component of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 — and a memorable aspect of her long reign celebrations in 1977 and her platinum jubilee last year.

The Big Lunch is an attempt to keep that neighborly feeling alive. According to organizers Eden Project Communities, around 67,000 Big Lunches are scheduled.

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The knitted family of Britain’s Prince William, Prince of Wales, Britain’s Catherine, Princess of Wales and their children Britain’s Princess Charlotte of Wales, Britain’s Prince Louis of Wales and Britain’s Prince George of Wales is pictured on a post box in a street in Windsor ahead of a Coronation Big Lunch, on May 7, 2023. – Thousands of local street parties were planned on May 7, 2023 on the second day of events to mark the coronation of King Charles III, ending with a concert in front of 20,000 people at Windsor Castle. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

 

“From a cup of tea with a neighbour to a street party, a Coronation Big Lunch brings the celebrations to your neighbourhood and is a great way to get to know your community a little better,” Buckingham Palace said.

It is likely to see multiple hit-and-miss attempts at making Coronation Quiche — the specially created, baked savoury tart featuring spinach, broad beans and tarragon.

The king’s sister, Princess Anne, was due to attend a community street party in Windsor, where his nieces Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie — Prince Andrew’s daughters — will also attend a big lunch.

Stars and lights

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will host a lunch at his 10 Downing Street office and residence, inviting community volunteers and Ukrainian refugees.

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Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L), his wife Akshata Murty (R), and their daughters Krishna Sunak (2nd L) and Anoushka Sunak (2nd R) prepare to welcome guests for a Coronation Big Lunch organised in Downing Street, in London, on May 7, 2023. – Thousands of local street parties were planned on May 7, 2023 on the second day of events to mark the coronation of King Charles III, ending with a concert in front of 20,000 people at Windsor Castle. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

Take That, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry are among the stars performing at Sunday’s concert that harks back to previous royal jubilees of the late queen.

Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel — who sang during the coronation service — will also be performing, along with Chinese pianist Lang Lang, Andrea Bocelli, Paloma Faith and Nicole Scherzinger.

Hollywood star Tom Cruise, actress Joan Collins, adventurer Bear Grylls and singer Tom Jones will appear via video message.

The Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal College of Music and the Royal College of Art will come together for a one-off performance.

Buckingham Palace said the centrepiece would be “Lighting up the Nation”, in which well-known locations across Britain will be lit up using projections, lasers, drone displays and illuminations.

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Caroline Lancatser (L) and Joaney Adkins (R) wear Union Jack themed attires as they pose in front of knitted figurines displayed on post boxes in the streets of Windsor, ahead of a Coronation Big Lunch, on May 7, 2023. – Thousands of local street parties were planned on May 7, 2023 on the second day of events to mark the coronation of King Charles III, ending with a concert in front of 20,000 people at Windsor Castle. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

 

The coronation dominated British media on Sunday, with focus on the magnificence of the ceremony but also on the pressing problems of the country Charles faces.

Reaction

The cost of the coronation — reported to be upwards of £100 million ($126 million) — has caused disquiet at a time when many Britons are struggling with the soaring cost of living and widespread strikes.

Many covered the arrest of anti-monarchists even before they had a chance to protest, which has prompted concern from rights groups.

The BBC said more than 14 million tuned in on its two main terrestrial channels to watch the ceremony — well down on previous major royal occasions.

The Guardian hailed an event that was “ludicrous but also magnificent” and an “extraordinary show of precision in a country where nothing works”.

It praised the multi-faith parts of the service, adding: “If you felt nothing when the choir sang Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’… you are either an algorithm or half dead.”

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Two women wearing crowns have a cup of tea on Windsor high street ahead of a Coronation Big Lunch organised in Windsor, on May 7, 2023. – Thousands of local street parties were planned on May 7, 2023 on the second day of events to mark the coronation of King Charles III, ending with a concert in front of 20,000 people at Windsor Castle. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

 

The Times noted that the “stilted, almost anxious, expression” on Charles’s face at Westminster Abbey “was perhaps a reflection of the scale of his task”.

“He rules over a country in a mess and a monarchy diminished by scandal, with his younger brother and son both cast out from the inner circle” while foreign realms are departing with the trend likely to continue.

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