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Monique Keiran: Anticipating the coronation of King Charles III by stocking up on bangers and crisps

Canada is now a more diverse country, with far fewer citizens with social or family ties to merry olde Englande.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is joined by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and at rear, from left, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex during a reception at Buckingham Palace, London to mark the 50th anniversary of the investiture of the Prince of Wales, March 5, 2019. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP, File)

Charles III will be crowned on Saturday.

Despite the lack of fuss in this tiny outpost of the former British Empire — current Commonwealth, a continent and an ocean away from the epicentre of pomp and circumstance, Nature Boy is showing some spirit.

“I’ve stashed all kinds of crisps, biscuits and bevvies with dodgy names in the car boot, and there’s some Builder’s in the cupboard in case me an’ the blokes should fancy a cuppa,” he said. “But I’ve put the bangers in the icebox — nope, keeping bangers in the ol’ banger for a week wouldn’t be good.”

“You’re mixing your slang,” I said.

“Well, now, don’t throw a wobbly about it,” he replied.

When market research and analytics company Leger surveyed Canadians in September, just after the Queen died, 77 per cent of respondents said they had no attachment to the British monarchy. A similar percentage gave her successor either a thumbs down or were indifferent. By mid-March, the number had grown to 81 per cent. Although 44 per cent of respondents in March said they were aware of the coming coronation, 73 per cent said they weren’t interested, and 56 per cent said Canada should reconsider its ties to the monarchy.

Even more recently, 52 per cent of respondents in a Angus Reid poll said they don’t want Canada to continue as a constitutional monarchy for generations to come. Of those respondents, 88 per cent said they’d support opening the constitution to break those ties.

The results echo a 2021 Angus Reid survey, in which 52 per cent of respondents said Canada should end its status as a constitutional monarchy in the coming generations, a 17 per cent increase over 2016 responses.

Surveys and polls are rarely definitive, but the numbers do indicate Canadians’ growing ambivalence and indifference regarding the monarchy.

Reasons vary. Times have changed since the more popular Elizabeth took the throne 71 years ago. Charles’s and his siblings’ well-documented antics during their younger decades displayed entitled prat-itude.

A more relevant reason may be that Canada is now a more diverse country, with far fewer citizens with social or family ties to merry olde England. As a society, we’re also questioning the actions and impacts of colonialism. We’re emerging from a pandemic, and we’re still wrestling with an ongoing opioid crisis. Inflation and high interest rates are walloping us and — forget about following an esoteric, tradition-steeped ceremony for some wealthy bloke “over there” next weekend — far too many of us don’t have roofs over our heads.

The Canadian and B.C. governments are taking muted approaches to the coronation.

A ceremony will be held in Ottawa, including special activities at Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s residence. Canadians in communities across the country are also invited to celebrate the event on May 6 and 7.

Here in the city named for Charles’s great-great-great-grandmother, low key is a key word. A week before the ceremony, the lieutenant governor’s office still hadn’t updated its website with plans for the event. Another local institution is recognizing the passing of the baton — er, sceptre. Coronation-inspired afternoon tea, cocktails and breakfasts can be had at the Fairmont Empress, also named for that great-great-great-grandmother.

As for Nature Boy, I was gobsmacked when he insisted on modelling his special coronation headgear. He’d duct-taped to a headband television rabbit ears I recognized from the back of the garden shed.

“It’s an homage to the last coronation,” he said. “These must be almost that old — maybe they were part of a TV that people used to watch Liz being crowned.”

“Cor, blimey,” I said. “Nice fascinator…?”

“Innit. I’m chuffed you think so.”

“So how much longer are you going to faff around with this?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m just taking the piss,” he said, pulling the head piece off. “I can’t be arsed about any of it. I prefer watching British quiz shows and picking up fruity British phrases and slang to watching their royals and picking up their fashion tips.”

Just another indifferent Canadian.

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