Remona Aly
Saturday 11 February 2023 The Guardian

The coronation: an alternative party toolkit

Connect the dots, coronation Aubergine – there’s little joy in the official guide. But there are ways to enjoy the day.


Let the bells ring out, raise the bunting. But what else?

The problem looming with Coronation Day, when the artist once known as Prince Charles is crowned with pomp and ceremony, is that no one really knows what to do about it. How would they know? He’s the first British monarch to be ordained in 70 years.

And so courtesy of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), we have a toolkit to help us celebrate the illustrious moment. There are games, coronation chicken style recipes, and a Spotify playlist featuring King by Years & Years (obvs), Boney M’s Daddy Cool and without a whiff of woke – Grace Jones’s Slave to the Rhythm.

But it’s the people’s day, and with no guarantee that all will find the government’s kit of joy to their liking, many already seek alternatives. The options, I find, are endless.

1. Revive ‘It’s a Royal Knockout’
We’ve largely forgotten it now but Prince Edward was on to something back in the 80s when he got members of the royal family to humiliate themselves on national telly. Now they do it all the time. Back then they wore yellow tights, medieval costume and dressed as giant vegetables. They seemed happy. Why not recreate those magically competitive, watery, custardy moments in a modern setting: Kate v Meghan, Will v Harry, Andrew v Fergie, Andrew v Emily Maitlis, Andrew v the US lawyers. Andrew working up a sweat….oh no, he doesn’t does he.

2. Play the ‘damn pen!’ game

There’s a join the dots game in the official toolkit. Complete the task and create your own royal carriage. But why make the art so abstract? Bring the whole thing to life by having the youngsters recreate the King’s proclamation ceremony, when he ranted volubly at the inadequacy of his leaky “damn”, “bloody thing” fountain pen. . “Oh god I hate this,” he said. The teams could reenact the scene and chant that. Talk about happy and glorious. Protector of the faiths, priest of the petulant.

3. Adapt the playlist

Harry will be there, by all accounts, so the impassioned “Release me” by the evergreen veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdink would seem right for the Spotify playlist.
‘Please release me, let me go/ For I don’t love you anymore,’ sang Humpty Bumpy, Lumpty Dumpy as he was known. Night after night, on TV and in Vegas, he wrung pathos, pain and hopelessness from his situation. Could be a song for any of them really: a follow on, perhaps, from “Slave to the Rhythm”.

4. No to the ‘coronation aubergine’: have a very cheeky Nandos

It’s there in the official toolkit, but surely it’s time to move away from coronation themed food choices. What has coronation chicken, the curried mayo has-been said to have been devised during preparations for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation banquet, ever done for us – or good taste? Go your own way: get Nandos, the Portuguese mother clucker going as a national heritage dish. Apparently it’s Harry’s fave. Camilla? Not so much.

5. Morris dance – to Stormzy
The royal website spiel says we are truly a nation that looks forward as well as being rooted in the past, so why not fuse the much admired/much reviled English folk tradition of Morris dancing with a bit of grime. “Big for your boots”: that’s Stormzy grimey anthem, but it’s also the Windsors with bells on, as it were. Quite the antidote to the row over morris dancing and blackface. Stormzy once bumped into Prince William at the gym apparently. One of them was working out: the other isn’t known for working at all.

6. Diversify the day: stream the Goodness Gracious Me sketch: Going for an ‘English’

Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, Kulvinder Ghir and Nina Wadia played a cast of Indian characters in a sketch parodying stereotypes of white English people going out for an ‘Indian’. How about friends and family role playing the Windsors going for a German. Instead of, “12 bread rolls,”: “16 of your Blutwurst sausages, if we may”.

7. Enjoy your protector of the faiths pop up postcard
Since King Charles has expressed genuine interest and even championed other faiths in the UK, and to mark his oath on coronation day when he become not just defender of the faith but also defender of faiths, let’s celebrate inclusion and diversity with your own interfaith pop up. The downloadable pop up would feature the happy, smiley faces of Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and the like, all united under the Union Jack. The fun continues until a pop up Indian says we want our Koh-i-Noor diamond back. At that point, the fun is over. Cheers, namaste, salam, sat sri akal. And God save the King!

This article was originally published in The Guardian on 11th February 2023. To view it click here.