Indian news coverage of King Charles’ ascension to the royal throne, disregarding dissenting voices and domestic news, reeked of colonial hangover.
In a world where King Charles III busied himself with the precise adjustment of his crown during a royal spectacle, our Indian media seemed to misplace its moral compass. Their preference for royal pomp overshadowed significant home-grown achievements.
Sorokhaibam Bindyarani Devi, who hoisted not only weights but the entire nation’s pride at the Asian Championships, deserved attention and due media coverage. We also had five brave para commandos making the ultimate sacrifice during an anti-terrorist operation on May 5, 2023, in Rajouri’s forested Kandi area in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, these events played a lesser role than the age-old British regalia broadcast on our screens.
The Indian news channels found interest in eleven of the 2000 guests at the coronation having an Indian connection. This included British PM Rishi Sunak and Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor. Economic Times and the Times of India titled Sonam Kapoor’s shot “viral,” while The Indian Express called it a ‘fashion moment.’
The emphasis on these connections made one wonder if the Indian media mistook their role for narrators of a royal drama.
The coronation saw a lot of dissent. However, our media’s cameras seemed to ignore the anti-monarchy protests organized by groups like the ‘Republic.’ The Indian media’s memo seemed to have been, “Why let reality spoil the royal party?”
The media’s fervor for the coronation contrasts with attitudes from 70 years ago.
That was a time when attending a British coronation met with disapproval in India. This was evident when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru faced criticism for attending Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Now, it seems like a coveted invite rather than a political statement.
The frequency of the coverage suggested a misplaced ambition to join the Buckingham Palace press corps.
NDTV covered 104 articles from April 28 to May 8 only on King Charles, Times of India covered 84 news articles from April 10 to May 8 and began sprouting on the topic from March 10, 2023. Hindustan Times covered 30 pieces from May 8 to May 10, two to four full days after the coronation.
In its enthusiasm, our media overlooked a crucial part of history–the British were not gracious landlords during their time in India. But then, the villainous details of a royal story often get overlooked when a glamorous coronation is at hand.
The portrayal of the event by the Indian media contrasts with their African counterparts. The African press seemed indifferent to the coronation, rather asking tough questions on the colonial history of the British and asking them to return the wealth plundered during their time, contrasting our news channels’ enthusiasm.
In this entire saga, the Indian news media’s joy at seeing Sikhs and Muslims included in the ceremony was palpable. While it is a step towards inclusivity, it is essential to remember that this is one step in addressing centuries of colonial history. The question is, can a bit of royal inclusion erase the painful memories of colonial oppression?
The thoughts and opinions expressed in this are that of the author and not necessarily of WeThePress.