The Coronation weekend has been a strange one. I’ve been doing my best to ignore the whole affair and, while the press insist that this is a major historic event, it’s been easier to ignore than I expected. There seem to be few street parties and little sign of bunting. The biggest impact it’s made on my life is Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files sending out a defence of his attendance at the coronation.
But there is something sinister about this. We have a ceremony to crown an unelected head of state, against a background of an increasingly racist and authoritarian government, in a country where austerity and the cost of living crisis means lots of people can’t afford to live.
The spectacle of the coronation is intended to reaffirm a particular vision of our country. The ridiculous pomp is meant to seem anachronistic; the contradiction of this archaic ceremony is supposed to contrast with modern life, to persuade us that there’s no point arguing against the idea of a country whose rulers are defined by right of birth. You could even claim this illusion is an act of magic.
My friends Cat Vincent, Rob Rider Hill and the Indelicates have teamed up to produce a quick-turnaround podcast for this coronation weekend. It discusses the coronation ceremonies as an act of magic, and talks about how to protect yourself against them, with a quick introduction to defending yourself from the dark arts. It’s a good discussion, which takes time out to discuss the subject for those who have ‘no affinity for woo’.
Despite Nick Cave’s defence of his attendance, I’m disappointed at seeing him recuperated by a state which banned protests against the ceremony. It’s never good to see artists flirting with the establishment
The coronation seems to be less popular than expected, but the important thing is how it settles in the mind. We need to choose to remember the things this is supposed to distract us from. As Cat Vincent says on the podcast, the important thing is ”the act of choosing no”
(One interesting thread that Simon picks up on is the linking the popularity of folk horror and traditional customs/rituals to the current political climate. Which is something I could (and should) write a lot more about).