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Protests and pageantry: The picture that summed up King Charles' historic day

Here, Yahoo News takes a look at some key images from Charles' first ever King's Speech.

London, UK. 07th Nov, 2023. HRH King Charles III and Queen Camilla in the carriage. They appear to look and wave at anti-royalist protesters holding
Not everyone attended King Charles's procession route from Buckingham Palace to celebrate. (Alamy)

At first glance, the picture above almost looks as if King Charles has stuck this poster to the window of his carriage in protest against his own reign.

He didn't do that, of course.

It's actually a republican protester holding a placard from the side of the road as the monarch made his way from Buckingham Palace for his first ever King's Speech on Tuesday morning.

The inaugural state opening of parliament, which sees the head of state read out a speech setting out the government's upcoming legislative agenda, is a practice steeped in traditions dating back centuries.

If there is one thing Royal Family know how to do well, it's pomp and pageantry, which is perhaps one of the things that makes Britain so fascinating to visitors.

However, with many people struggling with a cost of living crisis, and with popularity of the monarchy waning in general, some have asking if all the fanfare is really needed.

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The protests

Polling suggests that the Royal Family has a popularity problem, particularly among younger people.

While they still enjoy broad support, a YouGov poll from September found only 62% of Britons thought we should continue to have a monarchy. Which isn't that high considering we're talking about the country's head of state.

Only 59% of those surveyed thought Charles was doing a good job.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, activists from protest group Republic were out in full force, waving placards reading "Not my King" - with a number of people controversially arrested on the day of the coronation and released without charge.

London, UK. 7 November, 2023. Anti-monarchists from campaign group Republic protest in Whitehall, declaring
A serviceman stands guard as anti-monarchists from campaign group Republic show up to Whitehall to protest. (Alamy)
London, UK. 7 November, 2023. Anti-monarchists from campaign group Republic protest in Whitehall, declaring
One can only imagine what Charles thought seeing these flags and banners on his big day. (Alamy)

Sure enough, these protesters were back for the first King's Speech in 72 years, chanting “not my king”, “what a waste of money”, and “down with the crown” when Charles arrived at Whitehall in his carriage.

LGBTQ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was among the protesters, called the monarchy an “anachronism”.

He said: “It’s an absurd contradiction that an unelected monarch head of state is opening a democratic, elected parliament – that is not compatible with democracy."

London, England, UK. 7th Nov, 2023. Anti-Monarchy protesters, represented by the Republic Group, demonstrated outside the Palace of Westminster in London during the King's Speech, displaying 'Not My King' banners and placards in a protest against the monarchy. (Credit Image: © Thomas Krych/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE! Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Live News
Many protesters object to public money being spent on the monarchy at a time when ordinary people are struggling (Alamy)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 07: Demonstrators hold flags and banners near Parliament as they protest against the monarchy and the Crown ahead of the State Opening of Parliament, which marks the formal start of the parliamentary year on November 07, 2023. King Charles III will travel in a State Procession from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament to deliver his first King's Speech as monarch, outlining the government's proposed policies and legislation for the coming session. (Photo by Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Republicans think it's time to ditch the lavish traditions (Getty Images)

Describing the Royal Family as a symbol of “elitism, privilege, snobbery, deference and huge social inequality”, he added: “The royals have 23 palaces and luxury residences, 700 servants and a combined personal wealth of £2bn on which they pay not a penny of inheritance tax – that’s outrageous.”

Republic chief executive Graham Smith called the King's Speech a "pantomime". Referring to the monarch, he said: “He’s not fit for office. I think if there was a free and fair election with other candidates, he would lose badly.”

The pageantry

Of course, many people still love the pageantry of the Royal Family and feel if Britain were to ditch it, it would lose something special.

Tuesday's ceremony saw Charles wear the Imperial State Crown, his lengthy crimson Robe of State and his naval uniform, while Queen Camilla wore the famous George IV State Diadem for the first time, and re-wore her coronation gown.

As thousands of admirers gathered to watch the Diamond State Coach make its way to parliament, members of the armed forces marched along the Mall to music. Other personnel carried out gun salutes in Green Park and the Tower of London to mark the occasion.

The Imperial State Crown is carried through the Norman Porch for the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London. Picture date: Tuesday November 7, 2023.
The Imperial State Crown is carried through the Norman Porch for the state opening of parliament in the House of Lords. (Alamy)
King Charles III and Queen Camilla departing from the Sovereign's Entrance at the Palace of Westminster following the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London. Picture date: Tuesday November 7, 2023.
Charles and Camilla depart from the Sovereign's Entrance at the Palace of Westminster following the state opening. (Alamy)
Green Park, London, UK. 7th Nov 2023. The State Opening of Parliament 2023. Credit: Matthew Chattle/Alamy Live News
A gun salute was carried out in Green Park to mark the occasion. (Alamy)

Perhaps one of the most distinctive and quirky aspects of the state opening, however, is Black Rod, a senior officer in the House of Lords who plays a centuries-old tradition.

As outlined on parliament's website, Black Rod is responsible for controlling access to and maintaining order within the House and its precincts. Lady Usher of the Black Rod Sarah Clarke is the first ever woman to hold the role.

Lady Usher of the Black Rod, Sarah Clarke, at the Sovereign's Entrance to the Palace of Westminster ahead of the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London. Picture date: Tuesday November 7, 2023.
Lady Usher of the Black Rod, Sarah Clarke, is the first woman to hold one of the state opening's most recognisable roles. (Alamy)
Britain's King Charles III and Queen Camilla return to Buckingham Palace in the State Coach after attending the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
The King and Queen return to Buckingham Palace in the State Coach after Tuesday's ceremony. (Alamy)
Members of the King's Body Guards of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms arrive at the Sovereign's Entrance to the Palace of Westminster ahead of the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London, Tuesday Nov. 7, 2023. (Victoria Jones/Pool Photo via AP)
Members of the King's Body Guards of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms arrive at the Sovereign's Entrance ahead of the state opening. (Alamy)

During the state opening, Black Rod is sent from the Lords Chamber to the Commons Chamber to summon MPs to hear the King's Speech. Traditionally the door of the Commons is slammed in Black Rod's face to symbolise its independence.

He or she then bangs three times on the door with the rod. The door to the Commons is then opened and all MPs – talking loudly – follow Black Rod back to the Lords to hear the King's Speech.