Chariot ride to be shorter for King... Did Modi rap Rishi over Khalistanis?

The Asian Age.  | Kishwar Desai

Opinion, Columnists

Even the response on the streets may not be as expansive as it was for the queen.

The coronation of King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla takes places on May 6. (Photo: Twitter)

We are not letting the bad news make us fainthearted. There are strikes by junior doctors and school teachers, and a war of words between the Tories and Labour to say nothing about inflation and recession. Ignore the local elections coming up soon. We are just looking forward to May 6 when coronation of King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla takes place. Depending on which side you are on, the good or bad news is that only Prince Harry is coming, not Meghan or their kids.

So that would obviously make many happy — as Meghan is not a favourite person in the UK — and the less they see of her the better.  It is the usual story of the daughter-in-law who turned out to be a rebel — and thus everyone’s sympathies eventually lie with the husband and his family. We know the narrative: How the daughter-in-law spoilt the naughty but naive boy. Or created misunderstandings. The stuff of a long-running soap opera.

Mind you, the rest of the news so far is mixed. Invitations are being awaited even by MPs and Lords. There are so many foreign visitors expected that MPs may need to stand by the doorway for a while just to see the coronation party going in to the Westminster Abbey. We have not had a coronation since 1953 so many would see it for the first and perhaps others for the last time. Nor have we crowned a monarch at the advanced age of 73 since Edward the Seventh succeeded Queen Victoria in his seventies.

So it has to be done properly but gently. A golden state coach built in 1762 will be taken out of its retirement and with eight gray horses harnessed will escort the crowned king back to Buckingham Palace at the end of the ceremony. That journey will be a short one as the old chariot is somewhat uncomfortable. It is when proceeding to the Abbey that Charles will use the coach built for his mother more recently in 2012 for her 60 years on the throne. This will take him along a longer route through London so many more can enjoy the sight. Even so, Charles will take a route just a third as long as his mother did. There will be only 4,000 soldiers accompanying the coach, again just a third as many as his mother had. Well… maybe this is not exactly skimping — but then the monarch does not want to sit in discomfort in an old coach forever.

Besides which (despite the joyful buntings being pulled out) there is a real concern about the expenses — while the rest of the country struggles with the price rise. In this environment is it fair that such elaborate and expensive arrangements are held? Even the response on the streets may not be as expansive as it was for the queen.

What we are waiting for are some more street parties on that day itself across the country. Comparisons are inevitable but while we had thousands of street parties for the last and most glorious celebration of 70 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign — thus far the number of parties for which permission has been sought across the country is only in hundreds. Times are, of course, hard and the previous queen was much loved and for a long time.

But the good news is that longevity has gone up so much that we now have as many as one and a half million car drivers above 85 years of age. Indeed there are 500 who are over 100 years old. How safe their driving is cannot be judged but we may need to make drivers’ licences a bit tougher before it gets unsafe for pedestrians to cross the road in front of myopic drivers.

Talking of old fashioned things, the Victoria and Albert Museum is displaying 250 glamorous costumes of divas — beautiful and enchanting singers and performers. This includes the dress that Marilyn Monroe wore in the famous scene in Seven Years Itch and also the dresses worn by Diana Ross, Shirley Bassey, Maria Callas, Tina Turner, Cher, plus many more and last but not the least — Elton John.

And we now have the chance of crossing over to Europe, not in an underground tunnel rail or crowded ferry boats between Dover and Calais but a luxurious tall ship such as was used a few centuries ago. Someone has had the idea of launching a regular service from Margate to Ostend in Belgium. This voyage will not be hurried and so be prepared for days rather than hours on the sea. The ship is called Morgenster meaning morning star. Great to, at last, travel in style to Europe.

And finally — yes it appears that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak got a rap on the knuckles from Prime Minister Modi for not providing proper security to the Indian high commission and allowing Khalistanis to run riot. Let’s see how that rolls out?