I took a spin along King Street in Aberdeen shortly before the coronation to soak up the atmosphere and see if there was any bunting.
The regal credentials of this majestic street – the longest in Britain, I believe – made it a good starting point. There must be something on show along the two-mile stretch heading north from the city, I thought.
Hunting the bunting proved harder than expected. I should have known better, after polling claimed a majority of people in Scotland weren’t bothered about the big event.
I found a supermarket at one end of the street flogging coronation-themed food for parties. But I quickened my pace on seeing an “offer” outside another store.
From a distance, it seemed to say: “No joking – free All Bran”. But it was a scrawl of black graffiti on its cream-coloured wall.
Closer inspection revealed: “No King – free Alba”. What did that mean? Installing President Yousaf as head of state and taking orders from Brussels? Very Orwellian.
But, I decided not to count supermarkets; after all, they are royally bleeding us dry by putting up prices under the dubious disguise of the cost-of-living crisis.
Alas, I returned home empty-handed, with not much being on show to mark the anointing of King Charles III, but in time to watch all the historic pomp and ceremony on the box. Millions of others were doing the same – including many of those who scoff at the royals, I suspect.
The country might be going to rack and ruin, but even Hollywood can’t match these royal extravaganzas we carry off so well. A right old royal knees-up is built into our psyche from down the centuries.
At least we weren’t asked to offer the oath of allegiance to the King in quite the same manner as in medieval times – threatened with being flayed alive or sent to the tower.
In contrast, the Queen earned our respect naturally over many generations, without unnecessary and artificially-induced public pledges. But King Charles has to make his Carolean mark in less time.
We are living through so much grade-one history
It’s stunning how we are living through so much grade-one history happening all at once, over which future generations will gawp in awe.
What a line-up. Covid, carnage in a ghastly new European war, a cruel cost-of-living crisis, and a coronation – 70 years since the Queen’s.
It might register with some like a damp firework failing to go off, but surely the majority of us enjoyed and supported this extraordinary event. Our big royal occasions are the envy of the world.
I suppose we’ll soon become accustomed to lots of buildings and roads named after King Charles.
King Street was one of the two great Aberdeen streets created by act of parliament in 1800; the other was Union Street.
The former was named after George III, who was on the throne at the time. He was famous for conducting a war with America and going mad; I hope that’s not a bad omen, now I’ve mentioned it.
Royal street-naming became something of a trend, with minor royals being assigned to lesser roads around King Street. So, we have Princes street here, and Frederick there.
Not everyone was impressed at the time. A reader wrote in 1807: “Even Frederick Street, notwithstanding its high-sounding name, is not entitled to unqualified praise, and Princes Street is most unhappily named, unless it be in compliment to the Prince of Darkness.”
It’s heartwarming to see this tradition of wonderful acerbic wit maintained by Press and Journal letter writers today.
I’m indebted to painstaking street research by Methlick-born G M Fraser, who was Aberdeen’s public librarian a century ago. And the city’s archive library, which pointed me in his direction.
Royals are losing the younger generation
Many are unimpressed by the coronation bill in these hard times. Even the Princess Anne character in the hilarious TV sitcom The Windsors suggested booking a room in a “Holiday Lodge Express” hotel for a budget coronation.
The new King must build a bridge between the past and the next era, when William ascends the throne. Given the longevity of the Windsors, by the time King Charles vacates the throne, William could be in his 60s.
Yet, polls warn it’s the younger generation they are losing. Like a grand house atop a coastal cliff under almost imperceptible erosion, it’s this popularity issue which King Charles must address.
I’m mixed up about the royals – I love the pomp and tradition, but hate the privileges and excess of riches it bestows.
We should wish him well and hope he rises to this great challenge.
So, we have the dizzy spectacle of two blockbuster televised events in the space of just a week. Coronation and Eurovision.
If they conducted a popularity poll with the public, which one would come out top? Don’t answer that.
David Knight is the long-serving former deputy editor of The Press and Journal