It was only 10:53 am on May 6 and the king already looked intensely annoyed. He and his wife had to wait in their big carriage outside the abbey. The next in line, the Prince of Wales and his family, had run into some kind of delay and it is well known that the King cannot bear anyone to be late. “We can never be on time,” a lip reader later said.
It was in that moment of chagrin that I, and I’m sure many others, began to wonder how King Charles III and Queen Camilla would handle the immense pressure of what lay ahead. Honestly, they both looked exhausted.
Can two people in their mid-70s hold a reception on a Friday night for very important people from all over the world, get up at the crack of dawn the next day, get dressed, put on make-up, have their hair done and put on a serene performance, knowing facial expressions will be remembered forever.
While William performed his duties to perfection and his wife looked like a lady-in-waiting in every way, I couldn’t help wondering how long it will be until the next coronation. In the not-too-distant future, would Charles, at age 74, and Camilla, age 76, in July, decide to pass on the sword, orb, and crown to his son?
King Charles III was crowned with the crown of St Edward by the Archbishop of Canterbury at his coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Saturday
I turn 73 tomorrow and as busy as I like to be, I’m starting to think for the first time about how much I can handle as limbs stiffen and an afternoon nap becomes a regular occurrence.
How easily can I manage the kind of travel I used to do without an ounce of worry? Eating out with a friend. Consumption of wine. Late to bed. Up the next morning at 4:30 am. To the station to catch a train to Glasgow for example. Record a TV show or perform at a book festival. Back to the station and home late at the end of a long day? Today I wouldn’t even think about it.
But yesterday the king was already digging holes at the Whittle Laboratory in Cambridge and the couple’s aides would be planning visits the length and breadth of Britain, just as his mother did after her coronation.
I’ll never forget when I was three and held on my father’s shoulders outside my grandmother’s house. She lived in a village just outside Barnsley in Yorkshire, but the Queen and Prince Philip slowly passed through such an obscure part of her realm, waving and smiling.
Next month is the Order of the Garter ceremony in Windsor, while Camilla holds her first Reading Room Festival at Hampton Court Palace. Promoting literacy is an excellent goal, but I bet she’d rather read a book in bed.
Then there is a state visit in the autumn, possibly to France, before more long-distance visits follow. Samoa in the South Pacific is on the agenda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
Stopovers in New Zealand and Australia are expected. Thousands of miles at our age will be tough because, I suspect, the Aussies and the Kiwis will be tempted to still love a British monarch as head of state.
Like the late Queen, Charles has very publicly pledged to devote his life to service and is known to have a ferocious work ethic, but his mother was 27 when she was crowned.
The King and Queen Camilla waved to the crowd after the coronation ceremony on May 6, as they made their way to the balcony of Buckingham Palace
Jenni Murray (pictured) thinks King Charles looks tired after his coronation in London this weekend
I hope the king inherited the extraordinary genes that carried his grandmother past her century and his mother and father into her nineties, but I don’t recall any of them looking as tired and absent as the king and queen on Saturday.
Queen Elizabeth stood up, smiled and proceeded to receive the Prime Minister who was in office just days before her death. Could Charles do the same?
Retirement is a dirty word for many of our generation. We want to keep contributing, we want to keep our minds in order and for those of us who aren’t royalty, we’re still trying to earn enough to stave off the cost of living crisis.
But most of us also wonder: Isn’t it time to enjoy their last decades instead of beating ourselves to death?
For the King and Queen, the hard work has only just begun, a brand new role that is far too late in life for most of us to contemplate.
I wish them well, but urge them to consider ‘early’ retirement as an option. Perhaps planning to work hard until the age of 80, hand over to a 46-year-old Prince William and enjoy time together in the marriage that they have struggled for so long and that has clearly made them so happy.
Of course, I wouldn’t be saying any of this if we were celebrating a Queen Anne’s coronation.
The Princess Royal blows me away. She is my exact contemporary. She’s tough like her three brothers never were. She may strike up an interesting conversation with you or tell you to go into rehab.
She marched out of the abbey on Saturday, mounted her huge steed and rode alongside the king as his protector. Who would dare threaten him with his phenomenal sister by his side?
How sad that Anne, once third in line to the throne, is now 16th.
Post Office boss Nick Read was awarded a bonus of £455,000. Subpost clerks are still awaiting full compensation after being wrongly accused of theft when a computer system went down. Read plans to return part of his bonus. Shouldn’t he be forced to return the lot?
Why the Eurovision Song Contest won’t be the same
Hopeful: Mae Muller, Britain’s Eurovision Song Contest entry, helped launch the celebrated event earlier this month
I can’t believe it’s been a year since I sat down with my Ukrainian guests, Ustym and Zoriana, to watch the music festival that is Eurovision. I’ve never been a fan of the event – and can only muster a small amount of enthusiasm for British entry Mae Muller – but last year the three of us sat on the edge of our seats, looking for the winning Ukrainian entry. A year later they returned to Ukraine. Ustym is studying to become a doctor. Zoriana texts me to describe the constant fear as the bombing continues. They will watch the show from their home near Lviv. I will miss them.
Wake up to a waking problem, Sir Keir
Sir Keir Starmer – leader of the Labor Party – is clearly delighted with his success in last week’s local elections
Sir Keir Starmer is clearly delighted with his success in last week’s local elections, but he is mistaken in telling his team that ‘awakened’ issues don’t matter to the public.
Don’t forget, Sir Keir, women make up half the electorate and we think it’s important that potential leaders know what a woman is. I’ve never heard such nonsense as 99.9 percent of women “don’t have a penis.” Sir Keir, no woman has a penis. Understand the difference between sex and sex.
Even lifelong female Labor voters tell me they fear losing hard-won rights.
All credit to the police on Saturday
Protesters held ‘Not my king’ and ‘Citizen not subdued’ placards during the coronation last weekend
I see no need for the police to apologize for arresting Republican protesters on Saturday. Protest is essential in a democracy, but not when it threatens security.
Frankly, we should congratulate the police for ensuring that Britain’s largest ceremony in 70 years went off without incident.
Scotland has an idea to boost rape convictions. Would it dissolve the jury and let a judge take control? There have long been concerns that juries would let rapists get away with believing the myths that “women lie,” “she asked for it.” I still think that the principle of trial by your peers should not be abandoned, but jurors should be trained. Myths have worked in favor of rapists for too long.