Designed as a 'modern' touch, Coronation pledge of allegiance slammed as 'tone-deaf'
With less than a week to go before King Charles III’s coronation ceremony, the Internet is abuzz with news of last-minute details - not all of them welcome.
The Royal guest list for the Coronation Concert has gotten longer - with English actor Dame Joan Collins, Welsh musician Sir Tom Jones, British adventurer Bear Grylls and (perplexingly) American actor Tom Cruise added to the bill.
They will participate in pre-recorded sketches celebrating the crowning of the King and the Queen Consort on Saturday 6 May.
The ceremony will also feature many different faiths and languages - a sign of the “diversity of our contemporary society,” according to Archbishop Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the Church of England.
The big names and gestures are indicative of Charles’ attempts to keep the 1,000-year-old monarchy relevant in a Britain that looks and thinks very differently from the one his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, inherited 70 years ago.
Bringing the Royal institution into the 21st century is even more important as public support for the Royal Family has hit an all-time low.
Queen Consort Camilla rejects controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond for crown
From homewrecker to Her Majesty: Queen Camilla's journey into the royal spotlight
But one of the actions meant to “modernise” the monarchy has rung false with many of its detractors - and even some of its supporters.
The Palace announced that millions of people in the UK and the Commonwealth will be invited to pledge their allegiance to their new king out loud on Saturday, with an oath described as a “modern break from tradition.”
However, critics have slammed the move as “feudal” and more fitting of a Game of Thrones episode.
“Homage of the people” or “Huge miscalculation”?
Those watching the crowning have been asked to say: "I swear that I will pay true allegiance to your majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God."
It’s the first time in history that commoners have been asked to participate in the pledge, which has traditionally been reserved for the monarch’s peers. Officially, it’s meant to represent what the monarchy is calling an “homage of the people,” a symbol of Charles’ “down-to-earth” style of ruling.
But anti-monarchist organisation Republic – which is behind the #NotMyKing movement – has called it "offensive, tone deaf and a gesture that holds the people in contempt."
“This bizarre idea is likely to prove a huge miscalculation, one born of fear that the monarchy is rapidly losing support,” head of Republic Graham Smith wrote in a statement. “They are doubling down on the most archaic aspects of the coronation while trying to include everyone else in the most crass manner.”
Even supporters of the monarchy have called into question the effectiveness of the oath. British journalist Martin Townsend, a self-described monarchist, called it fodder for anti-monarchists.
“To me this just plays into a lot of the critics around the coronation, a lot of anti-monarchists who will say ‘Oh the monarchy is losing popularity,’” Townsend said in an interview with right-leaning news channel GB News. “There is a little bit of insecurity about it. And equally, I think it also plays into that narrative, which is of a slightly vain king.”
Allegiance amid hardship: A steep request?
On Twitter, many Britons expressed frustration at what was seen as a flippant request amid much more pressing matters - like the worsening cost of living crisis in the country.
Some users criticised the fact that the coronation – which is estimated to cost upwards of £100 million (€113 million) – is being bankrolled by British taxpayers, pointing to King Charles’ own astronomical net worth of £600 million (€683 million) in contrast.
Charles’ pledge of allegiance request has also proven to be prime material for a flood of jokes, even inspiring a creative new chant from fans of the Celtic football club.
Over the weekend at a Scottish Cup match, an entire stadium echoed with chants for the new King to shove his coronation where the sun don’t shine.
So as the monarchy struggles to find its voice at the start of the new King Charles III’s reign, it’s safe to say not everyone is on board with its new messaging.