May 12, 2023
If you didn’t tune in for the King’s coronation, you probably still know the highlights of the event thanks to every media outlet around the world and millions of people on social media breaking it down for you.
It was a moment in history and the first time a coronation for the British royal family has taken place in the digital age. The coronation is largely symbolic, as the king’s reign commenced the moment the former monarch passed, and is meant to be a joyous celebration steeped in tradition.
But as public sentiment towards the royal family in Britain, and other Commonwealth countries, is starting to sour - tradition is not what’s going to save them.
According to a recent YouGov Poll there is still broad support for keeping the monarchy, with 58% preferring it to an elected head of state, but this was largely with older generations. Only 32% of 18-24 year olds backed the monarchy with 38%, preferring an elected head of state, and remaining 30% unsure. 78% of young people said they were "not interested" in the royal family.
Staying relevant, particularly to new generations coming through, is crucial to the British royal family’s survival.
With all eyes on the king’s coronation, it was an opportunity to show young British people that he’s a modern monarch, who cares about people and planet.
So an extravagant celebration during a cost-of-living crisis should have been a no go. Instead, breaking tradition and going for a small, ‘no frills’ affair would have been a powerful statement from the king - because everything communicates.
What do I mean by this? Everything a brand does (or doesn’t do) communicates a message about something - and the royal family is one of the world's biggest brands.
So how did they show up and communicate?
Yes, there were some attempts by the palace to show the king is progressive and in touch with the issues of today:
But costs aside, there were still many moments in the lead up to and during the coronation that didn’t sit well with the public:
If everything communicates the palace really missed the memo, with many media and public criticising the event - reported to have cost up to £100 million - as unnecessary and out of touch.
Rather than forgoing a new crown “in the interest of sustainability’ how about forgoing the coronation and letting that £100 million be used to develop sustainable solutions to the climate crisis?
Instead of looking to the past and following tradition, the king should be paying attention to the now. To the future. The antics of Prince Louis at the Queen’s Jubilee won the hearts and minds of the public for his realness and he stole the show once again at the coronation.
The king could have had a five-minute ceremony on the palace balcony with Prince Louis crowning him and the internet would have lapped it up. He wouldn’t have been just the king, he would have been a grandfather sharing a touching, authentic moment with his grandson.
If the coronation was the royal family’s attempt to show relevance and win back young people, I think we can safely call this a failure.
There is opportunity everywhere, in everything to communicate with your audience. Don’t miss it or misjudge it - like poor old King Charles.