AS KING Charles III, the latest in a long line of monarchs in Britain stretching back for more than 1,000 years, was crowned on May 6 in a grand coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey in London, people from around the world also got to see all the pomp and circumstance. The coronation was only the second to be televised after that of the new king’s mother Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953. The event was expected to be viewed by millions of people around the world, and not only by those who are part of the British Commonwealth.
In the Philippines — whose history has a tenuous connection to Britain by virtue of an episode during the Spanish colonial era when Great Britain occupied Manila and the port of Cavite from 1762 to 1764 — the coronation ceremony was livestreamed at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City at “The Coronation Picnic,” which was open to the public.
“In the Philippines, we chose to have a public event. That was our clear decision, that we wanted to celebrate not just with a small group of people in BGC or Makati, but with a broader group of people. We wanted it to be accessible to everyone,” said Laure Beaufils, British Ambassador to the Philippines and Palau in an interview at the sidelines of the event, right before the beginning of the coronation’s livestream.
“We wanted to show what we stand for, we wanted to be able to celebrate in a much more open fashion, and much more inclusive fashion, because these are values that are important to the King and the Queen,” she said.
Indeed, people from all walks of life watched the coronation at the Quezon Memorial Circle, from embassy officials to a family of three who sat on cartons.
The coronation was streamed live on three giant screens at the Liwasang Aurora Amphitheater, near the Quezon Monument. Tents and booths were set up around the event featuring quintessentially British things, like a Mini Cooper painted with the Union Jack, and Doctor Who’s telephone box.
“It is an honor and a pleasure for us in Quezon City [to host the event],” said Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte. She pointed out that there were a lot of fans of the Royal Family in the city. “Filipinos, in general, love the royal family,” she said.
“I’m also very grateful to the British Embassy here in the Philippines that they decided to have a public viewing, so that everyone, from all walks of life, can watch the coronation.”
“It’s an absolutely historic moment for the UK,” said Ms. Beaufils. “I think it shows the attachment to our traditions, to our history, to our pageantry; but it also shows that we are a modern, multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious country.”
“King Charles is a modern king. He is a king that has expressed on many occasions what his personal passions are — obviously the most well-known are around the environment and climate change-related issues,” she said.
Ms. Beaufils talked about the relevance of this celebration to the Philippines: “It’s important because I think the King plays a unifying role, not just in the UK but in the Commonwealth and across the world. I think he cares deeply about the values that we share with countries such as the Philippines. He’s been to the Philippines, he’s incredibly fond of the Philippines; as you know, he met the President and the First Lady yesterday at Buckingham Palace.”
Mr. Marcos flew to London from a state visit to Washington, D.C. last week to attend the official reception and the coronation ceremony along with his wife.
The then-Prince Charles visited the country in 1997; and his aunt Princess Margaret and his sister Princess Anne had also visited the country on different occasions.
“It’s important for us to also show the people of the Philippines what the King stands for, what his values are, and indeed, to show the whole world that the Philippines is a great friend and partner.”
As for a possible royal visit, she said, “The king will be very busy with a lot of travel. We’d certainly love to have him here, but I can’t promise that that will be happening anytime soon. It’s certainly something that we might want to consider; if not also the king, some members of the Royal Family.” — Joseph L. Garcia