No, I won't be watching the coronation - the monarchy’s lost all relevance to my generation
Opinion: The coronation is a relic of a bygone era - and the monarchy’s feeble attempts to modernise are doing it more harm than good.
A recycled crown, a new coronation-themed Twitter emoji, and a “modest” attendance of 2,000 people: these are just a few of King Charles III’s latest attempts to modernise the archaic tradition of bestowing a couple of old British aristocrats on the other side of the world with the right to rule some 15 countries.
Off the back of this latest emoji revelation, royal pundits are also praising the choice not to style Camilla’s crown with the controversial $591 million Koh-i-Noor diamond (which is at the centre of a row between India and the UK), and applauding a new “streamlined” monarchy, to be celebrated with a coronation set to cost the UK a not-particularly-streamlined £100 million, or $187 million AUD. An absolute bargain when you consider the cost of living crisis and a looming recession (sarcasm intended).
Yep, King Charles III’s coronation, and his feeble attempts to modernise it, are anything but modern.
There has been a clear shift in attitudes towards the monarchy of late – mostly led by politically aware cohorts of the Millennial generation and Gen Z. To us, at best, a newly-crowned monarch feels a bit like that weird great uncle invited to every Christmas lunch – not essential, not particularly wanted, but not offensive enough to ban from future events. At worst, it’s a deeply troubling reminder of a bloody colonial past that has done little to repent for its sins.
And I’m not alone in my sentiments. A recent Guardian poll showed 43% support for a republic, with only 37% of respondents in opposition to becoming a republic. A quick Instagram poll on my own profile of about 15,000 followers – mostly Australians under 40 – showed a paltry 15% were in support of the royals, with 77% saying they found them irrelevant.
Prince Harry to leave UK just two hours after coronation: 'In and out'
King Charles' coronation: Only reason for Harry's attendance revealed
And that’s kind of the point here; our generation is made up of people who care more about quiet quitting on WFH Mondays, ludicrously capacious bag memes, and next season’s location for White Lotus, rather than a pompous coronation or becoming a costly republic. Particularly when we’re busy battling much higher-stakes political issues, like rising university debt, a cost of living crisis, a Voice to Parliament, and a lack of secure housing.
The cost of the British royal family
In the UK, the monarch receives a Sovereign Grant: pre-Covid, this reportedly amounted to about $148 million. Although here in Australia we don’t pay the monarchy per-se, we as taxpayers do fund the monarch’s representative – namely the Governor General, who’s allocated a whopping $495,000 per year for his salary.
In addition to that, we also foot the bill for royal visits, with a visit from Wills and Kate in 2014 costing us $474,137, and a Queenly visit in 2011 coming to $1.74 million. Most recently, the Australian public forked out over a million dollars for a then-Prince Charles to attend the Commonwealth Games in 2018, and $411,000 for Harry and Meghan to visit that same year (which is probably not that bad considering the Sussexes clocked a whopping 76 official engagements Down Under).
Still, what do Australians actually gain from these royal visits – and could that money be better spent elsewhere? Like a new Rihanna album and tour?
Then there’s the scandals. Prince Andrew’s sexual assault case, which the Queen reportedly contributed £2 million towards settling – and, of course, his controversial ties to alleged sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein. Add to that Meghan and Harry’s covert claims of racism – revealed during an Oprah interview as a family discussion of their soon-to-be-born child’s skin colour. And it certainly doesn’t help the family’s cause when Princess Michael of Kent was spotted wearing a racist blackamoor brooch on her way to meet Meghan for the first time at the royal Christmas lunch. It’s no wonder Megs has decided not to come to the coronation.
Royal family secrets exposed
That Oprah interview, along with Prince Harry’s scandalous memoir Spare, and 2022’s Harry and Meghan Netflix special, acted as a direct and deeply troubling conversation with younger generations about the most concerning aspects of the monarchy. That conversation effectively turned the tide towards the ousted ex-royals as sympathetic, modern figures, ready to humanise themselves and forsake a birthright in order to call out their problematic past – placing them in direct opposition to the always-silent firm.
In contrast, King Charles appears to be adopting his mother’s mantra of “never complain, never explain”, and look – that may have worked in the old days, but these days you have to take accountability for your actions. Like our entire generation does when we get caught work-Zooming from the beach (just kidding, we rarely get caught).
The use of the firm to provide separation between the media and the family might allow the monarch deniability, but to a younger generation, in 2023, it just makes the monarchy seem out of touch, unapproachable, and controlling.
Although, admittedly, King Charles does have a slightly more on-the-pulse approach than his mother, recently becoming the first monarch to acknowledge and support research into the Crown’s ties to slavery, and, of course, his decades of vocal support for addressing climate change. But then he went and ruined it all by reportedly offering Frogmore Cottage – the house Harry and Meghan were gifted by the Queen – to his disgraced brother Prince Andrew.
To care or not to care?
Perhaps it’s not solely my generation that is tired of the monarchy. Admittedly, the reason it’s difficult for a republican movement to gain any real steam is that, like the winner of Australian Idol these days, mostly we don’t care either way.
In the end, what measurable impact does the monarch actually have in Australia’s day-to-day running? Ask most Aussies in the street and they’ll say virtually none. That’s why there was barely a murmur when old Lizzie’s head was removed from the $5 bill in favour of a design that honours First Australians instead of a newly-minted King Charles III.
To care or not care: that’s the question. But perhaps it’s nobler to reject our deference to one family’s outrageously large fortune, in favour of better acknowledging and respecting our own history.
Never miss a thing. Sign up to Yahoo Lifestyle’s daily newsletter.
Or if you have a story idea, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.