We had the great good fortune to have our trip, long-since planned, coincide with the Coronation of King Charles III. Fortunately we were nowhere near the festivities, though there were some narrow misses, since one of our hotels, on a different date, was in Windsor, and our plane came through Heathrow in London. We were happy to watch it on TV. As someone in our group wittily said, we received our invitation, but decided not to come. I have since also heard, My invitation got lost in the mail.
The televised version had impact enough on me and the group of Americans I toured South England with. Sometimes it seemed more impactful to us than to our cousins across the pond, not all of whom were in a state of rapt attention. Anyway I watched most of the ceremony, and, as with the Queen’s funeral and other such televised productions I found myself sniffing occasionally, despite myself.
You may have watched it too, and if not, perhaps you will get a taste of it from my rather long poem. It isn’t, after all, everyday, that you crown a king.
[The Royal Hotel is on the Isle of Wight and South Lodge is in Sussex.They are both wonderful hotels which we had the pleasure of staying in on our tour. The towels at the Royal Hotel that we used just happened to be “Regal” brand. It seemed in keeping with the prevailing theme. The South Lodge grounds have rhododendons and azaleas which stand nearly as tall as the house, in enormous mounds, which were just bursting into flower as we arrived.]
Regal Towels at the Royal Hotel.
Flowering mounds, at South Lodge.
Simpering sobs, as we watch on a screen
A matriarch, finally dislodged.
Pledges of service and fealty, both,
From a king who is head of the state
In a cursory way, anyway. But the head
Of the church, in a manner ornate
And archaic, anointed with oils and with symbols:
A scepter, a sword, and a ring,
A calling to compass’s corners for fealty,
His own pledge, to God. Choirs sing
While the monarch discreetly, in chambers, disrobes
To a plain tunic, just as a man,
And his old eyes seem tired and kindly, not fierce,
As he begs us, take me as I am.
And the jumble of faces and colors and flags,
Once a rarified, pure-white estate,
Stretching ocean to ocean, all led by this isle,
Seems to some petty grumblers, not Great,
Yet the splendor impresses. And we, as Americans,
Stand of this process in awe,
Continuity being not one of our strongpoints,
Resembling more, a see-saw…
How the customs of centuries carry them forward!
Inexorably on, to the shore,
Like the waves of the ocean depositing pebbles,
The beach, ever thirsting for more.
While we twist and we wiggle and constantly re-new
The newness of others new things,
And we pull and we stretch far away from each other,
As if we would gladly take wing…
From a Protestant church, a most Catholic flourish,
Parades full of costumes and flowers,
And they pray that the King and the Queen will live long,
And we wince at the Irony’s power.
For just like a lady-in-waiting, wall flower,
A bridesmaid, but never a bride,
This King in the wings has been waiting too long,
So long, he can hardly abide…
We will see if he has the longevity yet
Of the queens that preceded his reign.
And we pray that theirs lives long,
And ours longer yet!
But a scythe in the wings still remains.
Copyright 2023 Andrea LeDew