Camilla will become Queen at the next Coronation predicts Sir Roy Strong
Whenever it happens, the next Coronation will be very different to the event in Westminster Abbey that brought Queen Elizabeth to the throne 60 years ago.
And Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will take the title of Queen despite protests over the matrimonial affairs of Prince Charles and his failed marriage to Princess Diana.
That was the personal prediction of the remarkable polymath Sir Roy Strong when he presented 20th Century Coronations to an audience in the Memorial Hall at Marlborough College on Wednesday.
The event, sponsored by The Merchant’s House, Marlborough History Society and Brewin Dolphin, was the fourth of more than 20 being held to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee, and was attended by Councillor Edwina Fogg, Marlborough’s newly elected mayor.
In a lectured packed with fact and fascination – wonderful wit too -- Sir Roy, now 76, recalled how he was one of two students from his North London grammar school chosen to stand on the Victoria Embankment and see the Coronation procession pass by on its way to Westminster Abbey.
It was, he said, what seemed like the dawn of some new Elizabethan era.
Delving back into history, he pointed out that crowning a new king or head of state was not the basic reason for the event. What mattered was the actual anointing of the new monarch, not the paraphernalia of power.
But the symbolic event had been transformed and manipulated over more than a thousand years to boost the popularity of the monarchy by creating a unique event, which today had global impact.
Coronations in the 20th century were imperial occasions, one-off, one-day events where those in the audience couldn’t see or hear what was happening, where only one hymn had been sung.
And events where past archbishops had made fundamental errors, even putting the crown on the monarch back to front, had stumbled reading the words of the oath and even stood on the King’s train.
All this had escalated over the century as the monarchy, scared by the prospect of Socialism, launched royal carriage processions, thanksgiving services, reviewed the Royal \Navy, held banquets for foreign dignitaries and City bankers, as well as gala operas, and promoted street parties.
These were all aimed at “shoring up the monarchy”, major innovations introduced by the Queen herself when, in 1953, she over-ruled all objections and allowed the Coronation to be televised for the first time.
The result was that TV licences soared from one million to three million and 27 million people watched the Coronation for the first time.
Enormous change had happened since then and already work was going ahead to bring about changes that reflected that.
“It involves every aspect of our lives,” said Sir Roy. “The abstract quality of the Crown stands outside our system which can reach out in any direction, irrespective of class, education, religion or ethnic origin and also continues to embody the history and tradition that holds the component parts of the UK together.”
“It is all going to be much more complicated next time. All the aspects are now being gone into. There are a lot of possibilities.”
Earlier, he quipped: “Ask me if Camilla should be crowned Queen and the answer is 'Yes'”
And he added: “No other country in the world has anything so utterly unique and extraordinary. May the next one – and I say this with passion and commitment in the year of our beloved Queen’s diamond jubilee, still be a very long way off.”
Whenever it did happen the next Coronation – and he was convinced that the Duchess of Cornwall would take the title of Queen – the Coronation remained an event of “immaculate splendour – the envy of the world.”