High teas, screenings and ‘total apathy’: how Australia is marking King Charles’s coronation

<span>Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

On the night of King Charles III’s coronation, the co-chair of the Australian Republican Movement is planning to watch some classic British comedy.

Craig Foster even has the movie picked out: Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Australian Monarchist League’s Eric Abetz has different plans for Saturday – the former politician will be watching a live screening of the Westminster Abbey ceremony at a $120-a-head cocktail event alongside Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie.

Related: What coronation? Many Australians don’t know when it’s on and few seem inclined to recite the oath

Thousands of kilometres away in London, people began camping out on Wednesday to secure a spot for Saturday’s coronation procession. Thousands are expected to line the streets, and thousands more across the UK will take part in coronation “big lunches” and other ceremonies.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is in London for the coronation, and has said he plans to swear allegiance to the king, despite being a “lifelong republican”. He’ll be joined by fellow Australians including rocker legend Nick Cave and Matildas captain Sam Kerr.

In Australia, some buildings will be bathed in a purple light and there’ll be a 21-gun salute.

That’s the extent of the federal, formal celebrations, but other organisations are holding events. The AML has a range of shindigs planned and some councils are hosting live-streaming events of the coronation. A parkrun will be held in Adelaide, with participants asked to wear tiaras or crowns, and a range of kitschy high teas have been scheduled.

The monarchists are disappointed there aren’t more official government events, with the AML chair, Philip Benwell, telling AAP he was sure that “huge numbers” would watch the coronation on the television.

“We know that there are a lot of people who are inviting friends around to their homes to watch,” he says. “Most people would not have seen a coronation or viewed one.”

Related: King’s coronation: who’s on the guest list and who isn’t (and why)

But Foster says the lack of federal coronation events “just demonstrates the total apathy that Australia has for the monarchy and the construct of royalty in 2023”.

“The sheer absurdity of the proposition that someone is born into a family then anointed by God to be our ruler.”

Foster says Albanese swearing allegiance to the crown while also pushing for the voice to parliament was irreconcilable.

“The great irony is … we’re experiencing national angst and psychological trauma in trying to deal with the complexity of our history, and the almost entirety of that history that we’re yet to reconcile was created by the crown,” he says.

Foster quotes a scene from the Monty Python movie he plans to watch to sum up his thoughts on the royals.

In the scene, King Arthur declares to peasants that he is their king, to which they reply that they didn’t vote for him. King Arthur tells them that he became king after the Lady of the Lake handed him a sword, to which Dennis the peasant replies:

“Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”