A “big lunch” brings the neighbors together after King Charles’ coronation

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May 7, 2023 | 1:28 p.m

LONDON (AP) – After the gilded spectacle of King Charles III’s coronation in an ancient religious ceremony, coronation festivities took a more realistic turn on Sunday with thousands of picnics and street parties held across the UK in his honour.

Community get-togethers, part of a British tradition known as the Big Lunch, were intended to bring neighbors together to celebrate the newly crowned monarch even as support for the monarchy waned. Critics have complained about the cost of the coronation at a time when living expenses were exorbitant amid double-digit inflation.

Thousands of luncheons were organized as part of the Sunday festivities, along with a night party at Windsor Castle featuring Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and the 1990 boy band Tack That One. Charles encouraged residents to get involved in volunteer activities on Monday, which was a day off.

The king and Queen Camilla were not expected to attend any luncheons but planned to attend the concert, which will include a speech by his son, Prince William, heir to the throne.

The King’s siblings, Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, and Anne, Princess Royal, and their spouses took on lunch errands for the royal family. Edward was at Cranley and his sister had an event in Swindon. The King’s nieces, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, daughters of Prince Andrew, were due to join a luncheon in Windsor.

Prince William and Kate Middleton attend lunch after the coronation.
AP
Community get-togethers, part of a British tradition known as the Big Lunch, were intended to bring neighbors together to celebrate the newly crowned monarch even as support for the monarchy waned.
AP

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hosted US First Lady Jill Biden and her granddaughter Finnegan Biden at the grand luncheon held in front of his office. Other guests included Ukrainian refugees and community activists.

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As in other boroughs where street parties were held, Downing Street was decorated with Union Jack bunting for the occasion.

Low key events A beauty pageant followed which saw the coronation of the king and queen together in Westminster Abbey. They were presented with centuries-old swords and spears, and a golden orb encrusted with jewels that symbolized the power of the king in a medieval tradition celebrated with religious rituals, songs, and heartfelt chants of “God save the king.”

The couple then paraded through the streets in a gilded horse-drawn chariot led by the largest ceremonial military procession since The coronation of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II, 70 years ago. About 4,000 soldiers marched in formations through the streets, their scarlet sleeves and white gloves swaying harmoniously to the sound of drums and bugles from bands, including a group of musicians on horseback.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the road in the rain to see her in person. Almost 19 million more watch it on TV in the UK, according to ratings from Barb Barb, a research organisation. This is 40% less than the number of viewers who watched Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September.

On Sunday, Charles and Camilla said in a statement that they were “deeply touched” by the celebration and “extremely grateful to everyone who helped make it such a glorious occasion – and to the many who came out to show their support.”

The coronation was condemned because of its price and the role of the monarchy.
AP
About 40% fewer people watched the coronation than the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
AP

However, not everyone was there to celebrate, and criticism continued Sunday over the arrest of more than 50 protesters, including members of a screaming Republican group. “It’s not mine” and environmentalists who aim to end the use of fossil fuels.

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Graham Smith, leader of Republic, a group advocating the abolition of the monarchy, said he was arrested while planning a peaceful protest and spent 16 hours in police custody.

“These arrests are a direct attack on our democracy and the basic rights of every person in the country,” said Smith. “Every police officer involved on earth should hang their heads in shame.”

The Metropolitan Police acknowledged concerns about the arrests, but defended the force’s actions.

“Coronation is a once-in-a-generation event and this is a key consideration in our assessment,” said Commander Karen Findlay.

In addition to the luncheon celebrations, hundreds of soldiers marched through the center of Glasgow on Sunday to celebrate the coronation.




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