Exploring the worldwide ripple effect of the royal coronation, we delve into the mixed reactions and discourse sparked among ten Commonwealth nations. From calls for republic status to demands for reparations, discover how this historic event reignites political debates and questions the relevance of monarchy in the modern era.
An estimated one billion people worldwide watched the coronation of Prince Charles III live on television or online. In the UK, the coronation was broadcast live on the BBC. The BBC’s coverage was watched by an average of 13.3 million people, making it the most-watched event of the year.
Worldwide, over a thousand news organizations covered the event live. In the US alone, the coronation, broadcast live on ABC, CBS, NBC, and MSNBC, had a combined audience of over 50 million people.
Live streams on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter generated over 10 million views, and the hashtag #CharlesCoronation was used over 5 million times on Twitter.
All in all, the coronation was a media event with few parallels.
And yet, these numbers don’t tell the full story. It wasn’t all hunky dory, and not everyone was celebrating. Not all reporting was positive, and Prince Charles III’s coronation generated significant disagreement, discourse, and debate — especially in the former colonies Britain refers to as The Commonwealth of Nations.
There are several reasons for this. Many believe he is too old and out of touch to be an effective leader. Others are concerned about his personal views that tend to be too conservative. On several occasions, he has been accused of being arrogant and out of touch with the needs of ordinary people. The rest are tired of the monarchy and call the British Royal Family an outdated institution with no place in a modern democracy.
Moreover, Charles has a long history of making controversial statements on immigration, climate change, and the European Union.
To get a quantitative measure of the extent and depth of the negative coverage, we analyzed reporting across major countries in the Commonwealth.
For our analysis, we chose countries based on the coverage they offered to the coronation event and their continued association with the Royal family in one or many ways. We also ensured to get a good mix of countries in terms of the regions they were in.
The selected countries were Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, The United Kingdom, Australia, Jamaica, South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda. Notable omissions from this list include India, Singapore, New Zealand, and many other African nations owing to lack of significant coverage, other news items topping the charts, or lack of data.
The analysis included sentiment analysis of articles and headlines using four different algorithms, namely NLTK, Textblob, Transformer, and Vader score analysis. The overall data was arrived at by normalizing these four results. Normalizing the results will give us a fair understanding of the positive and negative sentiments, minimizing the neutral aspects.
Upon shortlisting the varied criticisms against the entire event and its significance and past, we looked further into how these were expressed in words and phrases across the globe by different authors and journalists to their respective audiences.
A quick look at the overall sentiments attached to the articles reveals that African countries have the highest percentage of negativity in their coverage of the coronation event. 2960+ articles from 10 countries were collected and analyzed for this study. Out of these, we further filtered articles belonging to the negative sentiments to note the kind of emotions and expressions represented in those stories.
In terms of the sentiments of the headlines, we see a different picture as Australia and the United Kingdom were more vocal in their story headlines expressing displeasure against the coronation of Prince Charles III. The bigger news agencies were more vocal and brave when reflecting on different emotions connected to the event.
Country-wise breakdown of the articles:
Barbados showed maximum neutrality in its coverage, and there are strong reasons for that. In November 2021, Barbados officially removed Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and became a republic. It was also the day when Barbados celebrated its 55th anniversary of Independence. Barbados also named its president, replacing the Queen then. It was, however, decided that the country would remain within the Commonwealth. It is perhaps why Barbados had little to celebrate or write about the coronation of Prince Charles III.
Aside from the generic commentary on the coronation, there was little written about the pros and cons of conducting a King’s coronation in 2023 at the taxpayer’s expense. Most news agencies published the official statement of PM Mottley wishing the royal family.
“On behalf of the people and Government of Barbados, I wish to convey my warmest congratulations to Their Majesties, King Charles III & Queen Camilla, on their coronation.” The Key line in the statement was the mention of Barbados progressing from being a colony to becoming a Republic.
“As Prime Minister of Barbados, I recognize that our two nations share a deeply complex and rich history. By this token, I equally recognize the common values we share and celebrate the friendship that has blossomed and has not been wilted by Barbados’ progression from a Colony to a Republic. This indeed is a friendship that is founded on mutual respect.”
“We recognize the common values we share and celebrate the friendship that has blossomed and has not been wilted, by Barbados’ progression from a Colony to a Republic”: PM of Barbados
The Tribune, published in the Bahamas, had a title that read: “While Commonwealth heads are clear, Bahamian leaders fuzzy on remaining under the King”.
The article focused on political leaders from the Bahamas thinking about following Barbados into transitioning to a Republic.
The article referred to leaders from the following countries, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu declaring their support for their respective nations becoming a republic within the next decade.
Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew of St Kitts and Nevis, with a population of approximately 47,000, indicated that his country is “not free” with a foreign head of state. The article also quoted Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, declaring his intentions to break from the ‘absurdity’ of the British monarchy.”
Many other articles on the coronation quote leaders from St. Lucia, Antigua, and Barbuda, and even New Zealand expressing their interest in coming out of the shadows of the royal family.
The Nassau Guardian went further in quoting the Minister of Education for the Bahamas, Glenys Hanna-Martin, as saying that the “next logical step in The Bahamas’ growth is to remove the British monarch as head of state.”
The article then quoted the Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell saying that he “believes it’s time The Bahamas has a Bahamian head of state”.
One of Belize’s leading news agencies, Amandala, published a satirical commentary on the coronation by Colin Hyde. The Op-ed covers a range of subjects and offers opinions on each. It begins by discussing the coronation of Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son. It expressed a lack of interest in the church proceedings related to the event, particularly due to the absence of Catholic involvement. The author criticizes the length of the ceremony and contrasts the perceived appreciation of time in Catholicism with other religions. Amandala also published a Guardian interview with Belize’s Prime Minister, Johnny Briceño, who commented that Belizeans were not excited about the coronation and that “you don’t see people taking out their Union Jack flags or anything.”
The Guardian article also mentioned that Belize’s Prime Minister could not attend the coronation and that H.E. Dame Froyla Tzalam (The Governor-general of Belize) would be representing the country in the UK on a crowning day. It was also mentioned that the public and bank holiday declared in Great Britain for May 8, 2023, would not be acknowledged in Belize.
The Prime Minister of Belize further stated that the monarchy should apologize for the enslavement of former British colonies and that reparations were necessary. A few other articles also mentioned that Belize too will follow suit in becoming a republic, with Antigua and Barbuda too looking at this option. Another article In Belize reports the Indigenous peoples of the Commonwealth, including Belize, seeking colonization, apology, and reparations. It shares the letter written by campaigners for republic and reparations movements in 12 countries, including Belize, demanding thаt Кіng Сhаrlеѕ ІІІ mаkе а fоrmаl ароlоgу fоr thе еffесtѕ оf Вrіtіѕh соlоnіzаtіоn, mаkе rераrаtіоnѕ bу rеdіѕtrіbutіng thе wеаlth оf thе Вrіtіѕh сrоwn, аnd rеturn аrtіfасtѕ аnd humаn rеmаіnѕ.
It was also mentioned that the public and bank holiday set in Great Britain for May 8th would not be acknowledged in Belize.
Тhе lеttеr then аѕkѕ thе rоуаl fаmіlу tо асknоwlеdgе thе rеnunсіаtіоn оf thе “dосtrіnе оf dіѕсоvеrу” bу Роре Frаnсіѕ In April 2023, аnd tо аdорt thе ѕаmе ѕtаnсе іn оrdеr tо “ѕtаrt thе рrосеѕѕ оf соnѕultаtіоn аnd rераrаtіоnѕ fоr thе Fіrѕt Реорlеѕ whо ѕuffеrеd thе соnѕеquеnсеѕ оf nаtіvе gеnосіdе іn fulfіllmеnt оf thаt dосtrіnе іn thе nаmе оf Gоd.”
Тhе dосtrіnе оf dіѕсоvеrу rеfеrѕ tо а dіѕрutеd fеаturе оf іntеrnаtіоnаl lаw thаt аіmеd tо јuѕtіfу соlоnіаlіѕm, trасеd bасk tо dесrееѕ іѕѕuеd bу thе Vаtісаn іn thе 1400ѕ tо Еurореаn kіngѕ tо аuthоrіzе thеіr trаvеl аnd роѕѕеѕѕіоn оf nеw lаndѕ. The Vаtісаn іѕѕuеd а ѕtаtеmеnt ѕауіng thаt dосtrіnе “іѕ nоt раrt оf thе tеасhіng оf thе Саthоlіс Сhurсh,” but thаt рараl bullѕ іѕѕuеd аt thаt tіmе “dіd nоt аdеquаtеlу rеflесt thе еquаl dіgnіtу аnd rіghtѕ оf Іndіgеnоuѕ реорlеѕ.”
In Canada, surveys were held to understand Canadians’ minds on the coronation. Ipsos surveyed 1,000 Canadians ages 18 and older between April 19 and 20 and found that the monarchy has dipped in favor since the queen’s death.
Compared to data compiled in September, 74-year-old King Charles’ approval rating sank by seven points to 37 per cent, while Queen Consort Camilla’s dropped one point to 26 per cent.
William and Kate, whose approval rating sits at 52 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively, dipped 14 points compared to last September. William is the only monarchy member to hold a positive majority of those favorable among Canadians six months after Charles ascended to the throne.
As for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Megan have dropped in approval since the queen’s death. Down nine points, 47 per cent view Harry favorably, which is also the case for Meghan, who is down six points at 44 per cent.
The public interest in watching the ceremony differed with age groups, with interest the highest among those aged 55 or more. At the same time, the younger generation wasn’t all that hooked on updates surrounding the event. The poll suggests Canadians’ appreciation of the monarchy’s role and relevance has also faded since the queen’s death.
Sixty per cent of Canadians feel Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should hold a referendum on its future in Canada; 58 per cent feel Canada is not truly an independent nation with ties to the Crown, and 61 per cent feel the monarchy’s history with colonialism and slavery doesn’t have a place within Canadian society.
Global News Canada reports on how Commonwealth countries may or may not be thinking about printing new currency notes with Prince Charles on them. To mark the coronation of King Charles III, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that Canadian coins and the $20 banknote would be updated with the new monarch’s image, replacing that of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth. This has, however not gone down too well with Canadians, with 62 per cent of participants in a survey being opposed to this idea and not even in favor of recognizing Prince Charles as King.
In the 21st century, we don’t want to promote the idea that someone is worth more as an individual because of their birth or the social standing of their parents.
The UK released the designs of their new currency notes in December last year. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand also said after the queen’s death that it would be preparing to change out the image it uses on coins for one approved by the new King. Australia went in the other direction, deciding not to place King Charles on its new five-dollar bill. However, Prince Charles is still expected to appear on Australian coins that currently bear the image of Queen Elizabeth. The Caribbean nations have kept quiet in this regard.
Christopher Dummitt, a Canadian historian wrote a special for the National Post criticizing the presence of Prince or rather, King Charles as a figurehead of Canada. “In the 21st century, we don’t want to promote the idea that someone is worth more as an individual because of their birth or the social standing of their parents. If someone seriously suggested that our fundamental political decisions should be made by those born into positions of privilege, any reasonable Canadian would lock them into a shallow, mosquito-infested outhouse and leave them there to sort out their life.”
- United Kingdom
The UK, despite a majority share of media coverage focusing on the positives and the fanfare surrounding the event, did cover the downsides attached to the same. JJ Anisiøbi, for the Metro, wrote an Opinion piece asking why Prince Charles was not footing the bill for this ‘party.’ British taxpayers footing the bill for this party is nonsense, it says.
“He has never gone hungry, the lights in the palace have always stayed on, and he will never worry about providing for his family”. The article also talks about how the UK is in a huge cost-of-living crisis.
Howard Stern, an American Radio personality, was quoted by the Metro as being critical of King Charles III as he raged over ‘repugnant’ coronation celebrations. Terming the whole exercise as a ‘disgusting’ waste of time, he ranted, “England’s gotta get a grip on themselves. I understand maybe it brings in tourism, but Jesus H. Christ. First of all, Prince Charles is a p***y,”.
In other news items covering the coronation, a report suggested that A BBC cameraman was allegedly thrown out of coronation rehearsals at Westminster Abbey by King Charles after trying to film the sacred anointing. In a separate case, the Mirror publisher apologized to Prince Harry over unlawful information gathering. The Sky reported that many Anti-monarchy protesters booed when King Charles III was crowned in Westminster Abbey before launching into a chant of “Not my king.” A total of 52 protestors were arrested. It also led to the Anti-monarchy activists calling Meghan Markle, who missed the event as the “People’s princess ‘.
“England’s gotta get a grip on themselves. I understand, maybe it brings in tourism, but Jesus H. Christ. First of all, Prince Charles is a p***y,”.
The Daily Mail reported excerpts from ITV’s live coverage of the event in which Adjoa Andoh, who stars as Lady Agatha Danbury in Bridgerton (streamed on Netflix) criticized the palace balcony as “terribly white”.
“Looking at all those young people, there is a bit of me that has gone from the rich diversity of the Abbey to the terribly white balcony. I’m very struck by that.”
The Express published a glaring piece, “Charles under pressure as Coronation branded ‘slap in face during a cost of living crisis’“ focusing on the cost of living crisis pertinent in the UK. It also specifically highlighted an £8m government-funded scheme that allowed public authorities to claim a free portrait of Charles III, branded a “shameful waste of money.”
Multiple other news agencies focused on the existing tensions between the royal family members, possibly leading to Meghan Markle missing the event and Prince Harry being a solo figure at the event. The Huffington Post published a special on how Charles is a king of a nation with less influence and how the UK is navigating the effects of Brexit and other historical changes, with the nation tending to overestimate its strength.
Elsewhere, the BBC was quoted responding to accusations that its coverage of the coronation lacked impartiality. Wrapping the coverage in the UK, the Huffington Post again listed three uncomfortable elements of the coronation that must not be overlooked.
- The Royal Family had the power to censor BBC coverage
- The cost of living crisis is still happening
- Anti-monarchy protesters were arrested
Aside from the anti-monarchy protests, the biggest talking point in Australia was the decision of the Premier of New South Wales to opt out of lighting up the Sydney Opera House sails for the coronation. Premier Chris Minns defended his decision, arguing it costs between $80,000 and $100,000 to light up the sails. “I’d like to keep it for Australia and Australian moments of sacrifice and heroism for the country or when there is an important international event in Sydney,” he said.
A hard-hitting article by ABC reflects on the coronation of King Charles III and presents a critical perspective. The author Stan Grant draws parallels to James Joyce’s Ulysses and the theme of absurdity in the face of such ceremonies. Stan expresses skepticism towards taking the coronation seriously, highlighting the division within Charles’ own family and the role of the empire in the ceremony. The author discusses the history of colonization, stolen land, and the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights in Australia, questioning the significance of pledging allegiance to a crown representing oppression. He also reflects on the clash between the concept of monarchy and their Christian beliefs. The article concludes by emphasizing the need to focus on connecting as individuals rather than getting caught up in the spectacle of monarchy.
The coronation also had its share of political ramifications in the country. The SBS News reported Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi lashing out at the Australian prime minister for heading to King Charles’ coronation.
Senator Faruqi accused the prime minister of prioritizing a trip to the United Kingdom to “bask in the grotesque excesses, pomp, and pageantry” of the British monarchy during a cost of living crisis. The senator also criticized Mr. Albanese for indicating he would pledge his oath of allegiance to the King when Republicans push Australia to separate itself from the Commonwealth. “Now would be the perfect time to announce we were pushing forward with a republic, but instead, Albanese is signing us up to an outdated system,” she added.
Senator Faruqi accused the prime minister of prioritizing a trip to the United Kingdom to “bask in the grotesque excesses, pomp, and pageantry” of the British monarchy during a cost of living crisis.
The Sydney Morning Herald put out a rather in-your-face headline:
“Good bloke, but head of state? Yeah, nah”. This article features a collection of letters from readers expressing their opinions on various topics. The first set of letters discusses the upcoming coronation of King Charles III. Some argue that maintaining the monarchy and swearing allegiance to the Crown is outdated and incompatible with contemporary principles, while others criticize the use of taxpayers’ money for the coronation. There are mixed views on the relevance and significance of the event for Australians.
The next set of countries includes those extremely critical of the coronation. The Jamaica Gleaner reported the coronation while also focusing on the indifference shown by many countries and governments and the protests by those advocating for a republic. Titled “God Save the King,” the article highlighted the declining popularity of the monarchy, especially among younger generations, and how the King now faces the challenge of unifying a diverse nation.
Another commentary on the Jamaica Gleaner by Carolyn Cooper aims at taking a dig at the royal family’s accumulation of wealth and the atrocities associated with it. She specifically reminds the readers about the absence of the Kohinoor diamond in Queen Consort’s Crown, which raised many uncomfortable questions for the royal family. The article further argues that for most Jamaicans, the coronation was just another day, with people going about their daily activities in markets named after Queen Victoria. The author emphasizes that as Jamaica moves towards becoming a republic, the British monarchy should be held accountable for centuries of atrocities committed during the transatlantic slave trade.
The author references CARICOM’s (Caribbean Community) ten-point plan for reparatory justice, which includes a formal apology, acknowledgment of the right to reparation, establishment of cultural institutions, addressing public health crises rooted in the poor diet of enslaved Africans, eradication of illiteracy, validation of African knowledge systems, rehabilitation for psychological trauma, technology transfer, and debt cancellation.
Jamaican newspapers also reported that as the country was looking to sever ties with the British Monarchy, removing Charles III as the island’s head of state, its Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, will not attend the Coronation of Charles III.
- South Africa
South Africa has a rich history and significant diamond reserves. The country has lost around 100 million carats to the British, as per a few estimates. So it is not surprising that most of its criticisms against the coronation centered around the royal family having plundered its Diamond mines in the past and how it was the right time to return all of that.
The Citizen claimed that the coronation “Rekindles” calls for Britain to return the diamond to SA.
The centerpiece of the scepter that Prince Charles held during the ceremony has a 530-carat called the ‘First Star of Africa’. It was first unearthed in 1905, when South Africa was under British rule, and donated two years later by the colonial government to King Edward VII for his 66th birthday.
“All the mineral wealth in South Africa belongs to the people of South Africa, not the British palace,” lawmaker Vuyolwethu Zungula, who heads the African Transformation Movement (ATM), an opposition party, told AFP.
Like other African countries, Kenyan newspapers had much to say about the costs incurred for this coronation and the demands to make the king apologize and repatriate lost artifacts from erstwhile British colonies.
An article in the Mail & Guardian, widely circulated in Kenyan circles, talks about how even immense wealth does not bring happiness. The article argues that despite their wealth, the family continues to see much unhappiness.
The article suggests that despite the common belief that having such wealth would lead to happiness, the reality is quite different. Over the past two decades, stories from Windsor Castle have often involved negative themes such as adultery, betrayal, bitterness, and unsavory incidents. This challenges the idea that money guarantees happiness.
“Over the past two decades, stories from Windsor Castle have often involved negative themes such as adultery, betrayal, bitterness, and unsavory incidents.”
Uganda has the highest%age of articles with negative sentiments among the surveyed Commonwealth nations. The topics were all that we have covered in other African nations. A list prepared by the New Vision of Uganda tracks all the incredibly expensive and high-valued items like the Saint Edward’s crown, the Queen Mary’s crown, the Cullinan Diamond, and so on, with details of their origins and specifications. It is a stark reminder of the brutality and suppression part of the British Empire’s bloody past.
In the wake of Prince Charles III’s coronation, the global sentiments revealed a complex tapestry of mixed reactions and deep-rooted debates surrounding the relevance of monarchy in the modern era. While the coronation garnered immense media attention and viewership worldwide, it also exposed a wave of dissent, particularly in the Commonwealth nations. Critics voiced concerns about Prince Charles III’s age, conservative views, and perceived disconnect from ordinary people. Calls for republic status and demands for reparations emerged as significant themes, highlighting the broader societal and political discussions triggered by this historic event.
As the world witnessed these varied sentiments, it became evident that the debate over the role and future of monarchy remains alive and unresolved, emphasizing the need for ongoing dialogue and exploration of alternative systems of governance in the 21st century.
Shashank contributed to this report.