Charles’ big circus was majestic, but this king will not long reign over us

And Lionel Ritchie. It turns out after all these years, he was the man we were looking for.

The people got what they wanted. The cheers in the Mall, the boulevard built for the adoration of royalty, were real, even if the masses were down on those for the Queen’s Jubilee.


It doesn’t matter that Charles, on his balcony with Camilla, wearing crowns so absurd they matched the crocheted and plastic ones in the crowd below, are doomed to preside over a shrinking realm.

The King is head of state in 15 countries. More than half of the so-called “realm states” are in the Caribbean and most of them are bailing out. Barbados two years ago, Jamaica probably next year. Belize, Grenada, St Vincent and Grenadine are planning their exit as well.

All those countries shaped by the British slave trade are pushing for reparations these days. Damned if they’ll keep the crown if they don’t get some serious apologies and cash.

Most Canadians, according to IPSOS, want out – though the Canadian constitution makes it fiddly.

Australia, ironically, despite its republican PM and its first-ever minister for advancing the republic, is more likely to stay in. The Voice to Parliament comes first. Political calculations will follow. If the Voice wins, maybe that’s enough time spent debating constitutional change. If it loses, maybe constitutional reform is burnt as a concept. Plenty of other priorities.

Check out those official pictures of Charles meeting with Anthony Albanese at Buckingham Palace. Whatever’s going on – and with official photos you can never tell – it’s hardly King James I meeting Guy Fawkes. No hint of tension or threat. Just love in the room. And why not?

Charles seems a decent enough bloke. He’s certainly not as unpleasant as his Dad. Far from it.


And was anyone left unmoved by the single human moment in the Abbey, when William kissed his cheek and a flicker of tender pride flared just for an instant in the kingly eye? They are just people. They’re doing their job.

But the game’s up. The oldest monarch to take the throne will inevitably have to manage its decline. It is not done yet. There is resilience in the model, especially in Britain itself. And every republican has to reckon with the prospect of birthing a Trump.

But Charles’s big show might be his last great day. The last dance of a wheeling, brilliant circus, that has entertained and beguiled, but which soon enough, in its distant realms, will stutter and shrink and reel no more.

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