It was only 10.53am on May 6 and already the King was looking intensely irritated. He and his wife had to wait in their grand carriage outside the Abbey. The next in line, the Prince of Wales and his family, had suffered some sort of delay and it’s well known the King can’t abide anyone being late. ‘We can never be on time,’ was what one lip reader later revealed he’d said.
It was at that moment of grumpiness that I, and I’m sure many others, began to wonder how King Charles III and Queen Camilla would cope with the huge pressure of what lay ahead. Frankly they both looked exhausted.
Can two people in their mid-70s host a reception for Very Important People from across the globe on a Friday night, get up the next day at the crack of dawn, be dressed, made up, hair done and put on a serene performance, knowing facial expressions will be remembered for ever.
As William performed his duties to perfection and his wife looked every inch a Queen-in-waiting, I couldn’t help wondering how long it will be before the next Coronation. Might Charles, at the age of 74 and Camilla, 76 in July, decide in the not-too-distant future to pass the sword, the orb and the crown to his son?
King Charles III was crowned with St Edward’s Crown by The Archbishop of Canterbury during his coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey on Saturday
I shall be 73 tomorrow and, busy as I like to be, I’m starting to consider for the first time how much I can cope with as the limbs get stiffer and a snooze in the afternoon becomes a regular event.
How easily can I manage the kind of trips I used to do without an ounce of concern? Out for dinner with a friend. Consumption of wine. Late to bed. Up the next morning at 4.30am. To the railway station to take a train to, say, Glasgow. Record a TV programme or appear at a book festival. Back to the station and home late at the end of a long day? Today, I wouldn’t even consider it.
But yesterday the King was already digging holes at Whittle Laboratory in Cambridge and the couple’s aides are said to be planning visits the length and breadth of Britain, just as his mother did post her Coronation.
I’ll never forget, aged three, being held on my father’s shoulders outside my grandma’s house. She lived in a village just outside Barnsley in Yorkshire, but the Queen and Prince Philip passed slowly by such an obscure part of her realm, waving and smiling.
Next month, it’s the Order of the Garter ceremony at Windsor, while Camilla will hold her first Reading Room Festival at Hampton Court Palace. Promoting literacy is an excellent cause, but I bet she’d rather be reading a book in bed.
Then there’s talk of a state visit in the autumn, possibly to France, before more long-haul visits. Samoa in the South Pacific is on the cards for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
Stopovers in New Zealand and Australia are expected. Thousands of miles at our age will be tough, as, I suspect, will charming the Aussies and the Kiwis into still loving a British monarch as Head of State.
Like the late Queen, Charles has very publicly pledged to dedicate his life to service and he is known to have a ferocious work ethic, but his mother was 27 when she was crowned.
The King and Queen Camilla waved at crowds after the coronation ceremony on May 6, as they made their way to the balcony of Buckingham Palace
Jenni Murray (pictured) thinks King Charles seems tired following his Coronation in London this weekend
I hope the King has inherited the extraordinary genes that took his grandmother beyond her century and his mother and father into their 90s, but I don’t recall any of them looking as tired and spaced out as the King and Queen did on Saturday.
Queen Elizabeth was up, smiling and getting on with the job of receiving whatever Prime Minister was in office only days before she died. Could Charles do the same?
Retirement is a dirty word for so many of our generation. We want to go on contributing, we want to keep our minds in order and for those of us who aren’t royalty, we’re still trying to earn enough to ward off the cost-of-living crisis.
But most of us are also asking ourselves is it not time to think of enjoying their final decades rather than flogging ourselves to death?
For the King and Queen, the hard work is just beginning, a brand new role far too late in life for most of us to contemplate.
I wish them well, but urge them to think of ‘early’ retirement as an option. Maybe plan to work hard up to the age of 80, hand over to a 46-year-old Prince William and enjoy time together in the marriage they struggled so long to achieve and which has clearly made them so happy.
Of course, I would not be saying any of this if we were celebrating the Coronation of a Queen Anne.
The Princess Royal blows me away. She’s my exact contemporary. She’s tough in a way her three brothers never were. She might engage you in interesting conversation or tell you to naff off.
She marched out of the Abbey on Saturday, mounted her massive steed and rode alongside the King as his protector. Who would dare threaten him with his phenomenal sister at his side?
How sad that, having once been third in line to the throne, Anne is now 16th.
The Post Office boss Nick Read was given a £455,000 bonus. Sub-Postmasters are still waiting for full compensation after being wrongly accused of theft when a computer system failed. Read plans to hand back part of his bonus. Shouldn’t he be made to hand back the lot?
Why Eurovision won’t be the same
Hopeful: Britain’s Eurovision entry Mae Muller helped launch the celebrated event earlier this month
I can’t believe it’s a year since I sat watching the music fest that is Eurovision with my Ukrainian guests, Ustym and Zoriana. I’ve never been a fan of the event — and can only muster a modicum of enthusiasm for the UK entry Mae Muller — but, last year, the three of us were on the edge of our seats, rooting for the winning Ukrainian entry. A year on and they have returned to Ukraine. Ustym is studying to be a doctor. Zoriana texts me to describe the constant fear as the bombing continues. They’ll be watching the show from their home near Lviv. I’ll be missing them.
Wake up to woke issue, Sir Keir
Sir Keir Starmer -leader of the Labour party – is clearly chuffed with his success in last week’s local elections
Sir Keir Starmer is clearly chuffed with his success in last week’s local elections, but he’s mistaken when he tells his team ‘woke’ issues don’t matter to the public.
Don’t forget, Sir Keir, women are half the electorate and we do care that potential leaders know what a woman is. I’ve never heard such nonsense as 99.9 per cent of women ‘haven’t got a penis’. Sir Keir, no woman has a penis. Get your head round the difference between sex and gender.
Even lifelong female Labour voters tell me that they are afraid of losing hard-won rights.
All credit to the police on Saturday
Protesters ‘held Not my king’ and ‘Citizen not subject’ placards during the Coronation last weekend
I see no need for the police to apologise for arresting Republican protesters on Saturday. Protest is vital in a democracy, but not when it poses a threat to security.
Frankly, we should be congratulating the police on ensuring that the biggest ceremony seen in Britain for 70 years passed without mishap.
Scotland has an idea for bumping up convictions in rape cases. Would getting rid of the jury and letting a judge take control fix it? There have long been concerns that juries let rapists get away with it because they believe the myths that ‘women lie’, ‘she asked for it’. I still think the principle of being tried by your peers should not be abandoned, but jurors should be trained. Myths have worked in rapists’ favour for too long.