The coronation of a new monarch is a momentous occasion that is steeped in tradition and pageantry. It is a time for celebration and reflection as a country welcomes a new leader and bids farewell to the old. However, in the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s passing and King Charles’ ascension to the throne, I find myself questioning whether there is space for grief in his coronation.
I know from experience that after losing a loved one, and especially a parent their loss is often felt deeply, and strangely even more so during joyous occasions. It can create a duality, the happier the occasion the more you miss them. I have found myself wondering how members of the Royal Family will be feeling in the lead up and indeed on the day.
On the one hand, some argue that a coronation is not the appropriate time or place for mourning. They argue that the event should be focused on celebrating the new monarch and the continuity of the monarchy, rather than dwelling on the loss of the previous one. From this perspective, grief could be seen as detracting from the joyous and festive atmosphere of the occasion. But anyone who has been on that journey will know, grief isn’t a tap you can turn on and off. It’s there, always there. I’m not sure grief understands it’s appropriateness!
On the other hand, others argue that grief is an essential part of the coronation. The monarchy is steeped in history and tradition, and the passing of a monarch marks the end of an era. Ignoring this reality and glossing over the loss could be seen as disrespectful to the memory of the previous monarch and to the nation’s collective history. From this perspective, acknowledging and honoring the grief of King Charles and the nation could be seen as an important part of the coronation.
I think it’s worth noting that historically, there has been space for grief in royal coronations. For example, Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1838 came just a year after the death of her uncle and predecessor, King William IV. In her diary, Victoria wrote about her mixed emotions during the ceremony, acknowledging the sense of loss she felt while also expressing her excitement for her new role as queen.
In the case of King Charles’ coronation, it is likely that there will be some acknowledgment of the grief felt by him and the nation. The planning for the coronation is still in its early stages, but it is possible that there will be moments of silence or reflection to honor Queen Elizabeth’s memory. It is also possible that the coronation itself has been scaled back or modified in light of his grief – I cannot be sure of this but just my musings.
In conclusion, the question of whether there is space for grief in King Charles’ coronation is a complex one. While some may argue that the occasion should be solely focused on celebration, others believe that acknowledging the loss of Queen Elizabeth is an essential part of the coronation. Ultimately, it will be up to King Charles and those planning the coronation to determine the appropriate balance between joy and grief, tradition and modernity.
I invite you to reflect on how if ever you make space for grief during times of celebration, do you feel it appropriate or inevitable. Or maybe you subscribe to the school of thought that there is no space for sadness in times of celebration?