What else

IssueJune - July 2023
Comment by Rebecca Elson-Watkins

So, we have a king. That still feels strange to say, never mind sing, come the football, but here we are. Readers who remember my column about the late queen’s state funeral and all the pomp and circumstance and expense around it, can probably guess where I’m going with this. I’m sorry, readers, but I really am as cross as a bag full of badgers about this nonsense.

The figure that has been bandied about regarding the cost of the coronation is £100mn. Let that sink in.

In the middle of a cost-of- living crisis.

When the Trussell Trust handed out three million food parcels in the past year.

When our NHS is on its knees.

One hundred million pounds, sterling.

Or, to put it another way, enough money to pay the starting salary of 3,520 NHS nurses, for a year.

To put an overpriced hat on a man who reportedly is worth £1.8bn and who therefore could have paid the entire bill himself, 18 times.

I don’t think I was alone in hoping that perhaps things in the Establishment might change with Charles on the throne. A well-known nature lover, it is undeniable that he has done some things to help the planet (but does it even come close to balancing out all the private jet flights?).

I had hoped that moving in environmentalist circles would expose Charles to talk of democratic socialism and republicanism and lots of other wonderful ideas besides.

Well, if he heard those wonderful ideas, he didn’t take them on.

He also didn’t call the FBI and hand over his brother for questioning – but that is another column entirely.

There was absolutely no need for the wild display of wealth and power that we have just witnessed.

Charles is king, with or without the hat.

Marching the military, en masse, through the streets of the capital, to remind us plebs who has the hard power, was unnecessary.

Riding through those same streets in a golden coach was unnecessary.

Wearing real fur was unnecessary.

The whole bloody fandangle was completely unnecessary.

To top it all off, the Metropolitan police, predictably, made sure to make headlines during coronation weekend.

Despite negotiations with the Met long before the day, six members of the group Republic, which campaigns for, you guessed it, Britain to become a republic, with a written constitution and an elected head of state, were arrested the morning of the coronation. They were released the next day, without charge, and with a public apology so thin it was laughable.

In London’s Soho, at 2am the night before the coronation, the Met also arrested three volunteers who were handing out rape alarms to women and girls.

The two women and one man were members of Westminster city council’s Night Stars street safety program, which is run in association with... the Met.

They even have the Met’s logo on the back of their hi-vis jackets.

The excuse given was that the Met had received intelligence that the rape alarms were

going to be used to disrupt the coronation procession and they might scare the horses. Anyone who has ever been to a military event in the capital knows

that those horses are very well trained to deal with very loud noises. Some of the horses regularly have drums attached to them for crying out loud!

Given the Met’s record of ‘protecting’ (read ‘abusing’) women and girls, you’d think they might be concerned about how these arrests would look – but no.

The volunteers left the police station without so much as an apology.

I don’t think anyone would blame those three individuals if they could not face being in that particular voluntary role again but I hope that’s not that case, and I offer them my solidarity.

If Night Stars loses three volunteers over this incident, the sad fact is that women and girls on the streets of London will be less safe, once again, as a direct result of the Met’s behaviour.

My hope is that I am not the only one seeing this and that people who were previously apathetic towards the monarchy, the Met, and the right to protest (a fundamental part of any healthy democracy) are now also as cross as a bag full of badgers.

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