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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Anna van Praagh

OPINION - I used to be a republican, but here’s why I’m celebrating the Coronation

Next Sunday in Acton I will do something that would have shocked my younger self. I will be enthusiastically putting up bunting and trestle tables and preparing to toast the King for his coronation. But it’s not me that’s changed — it’s the world.

To the party first. A few of us are meeting this week to discuss logistics and who will be doing what.

I’ll probably buy a lot of booze and make Coronation chicken (obvs) and one of those ridiculously divisive delicious-sounding quiches that everyone has got their knickers in a twist about.

I’m thinking of buying a whole lot of tat from the Co-op — a special Coronation table cloths, napkins and paper cups. I’m looking forward to celebrating it, which I find odd. For years I was a staunch republican who couldn’t have been more uninterested in the royals.

Growing up in the Nineties, none of us were pro-monarchy. The Royal family were, at the time, hard to admire. It was also becoming increasingly difficult to square the burgeoning meritocracy in Britain with an institution so inherently regressive and anachronistic.

The Queen’s infamous annus horribilis, 1992, was the family’s nadir. Charles and Diana separated amid clamorous and very public acrimony. Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story — a de facto autobiography, it later transpired — showed a highly vulnerable and mistreated Diana. This was also the year that Fergie was photographed topless, having her toes vigorously sucked by her ‘financial adviser’.

Every day the papers were ablaze with some scandal or another. By 1997 we were enjoying swinging London, Tony Blair was elected as PM and Vanity Fair had its famous Cool Britannia cover with Patsy and Liam in bed behind a big Union Jack. But the royals were very much not a part of this — for a long time after Diana’s death the mood towards them was dark.

For years I went into endurance mode whenever their names were discussed and just wished they’d disappear. The Prince Andrew saga didn’t help, nor did the chaos over Harry and Meghan.

But, as the world seems ever more unstable and politics more apocalyptically tumultuous by the day, the Royal family seems to have morphed into something steadying we can cling on to. A post-Brexit, post-Covid, mid-inflation-ravaged society feels misery-laden and fragmented; the Royal family are a much-needed societal adhesive.

In a week where German magazine Der Spiegel led with a schaudenfreude-saturated article about Britain’s inexorable decline, it feels like the Coronation is exactly the soft power conversation-switcher we so desperately need.

So let’s all hope for lovely sunny weather for our street parties on Sunday week. We’ll be celebrating living in the best city in the world with neighbours we’re lucky enough to call friends. And we’ll all raise a glass of Coronation punch to wish Charles all the best in his new job.

Pain and pleasure of A Little Life

I’m not proud of myself but I admit it — I’ve sold my tickets to the sold-out adaptation of Hanya Yanigihara’s A Little Life at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

Conceived and directed by the genius that is Ivo van Hove, the play stars James Norton as Jude, the lawyer whose life is spent trying to overcome years of abuse and torture he suffered as a child and young man.

My husband bought us tickets almost a year ago as he knew I loved the book (full disclosure: I skipped all the torture scenes) but as the reviews flew in I knew I wouldn’t be able to sit through it.

Call me lily-livered but the thought of nearly four hours of highly confronting blood-soaked ‘torture porn’ sounds like an exceptionally painful evening.

Brave friends who have been tell me the one funny thing is all the teenage girls who clearly went to see a naked Norton, only to be subjected to hours of unremittingly miserable sadism on stage. Bless!

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