On a quiet December evening in 1989, a bored scanner chanced upon a report of a curious bedtime conversation between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles in which the current king made an important confession. He professed a desire to ‘live inside her trousers’ and claimed he wanted to be reborn as Camilla’s tampon.
When a transcript of this leaked phone call made the headlines, my neurons immediately decided that while it was acceptable to promptly forget every element in the periodic table and even the names of some of my relatives, this bit of information needed to be carefully preserved for over thirty years and dredged up when I saw the coronation.
‘Be ambitious and work hard,’ we keep telling our children, ‘so that someday you can rise right to the top’. Now they will throw this back in our faces with, ‘Stop it Mom, look at Charles, his ambition was just to be a tampon and now he is a King!’
Coronation week meant a four-day holiday and my university extended our second term submission deadline by a day. This meant that instead of sitting at my desk and revising my essay for the eleventh time, I had some extra time to join the celebrations in my own way. I promptly bought a Meghan Markle cardboard mask, put it on and started walking all over London so I could do my bit towards making up for her absence at her father-in-law’s coronation.
I only understood the reason for Meghan’s non-attendance after seeing a reel by Zarna Garg. The comedian put her absence in context rather eloquently: ‘My father-in-law also just went to get his driver’s licence renewed, do you think I went with him?’
Conversations about the coronation seem to have brought up the old Kohinoor controversy. Traditionally, the Queen’s coronation involved wearing the crown with the infamous diamond. On this occasion, the palace issued a statement that the Kohinoor would not be used in the ceremonial proceedings. This didn’t stop Indians from once again asking for the return of the Kohinoor. I would just like to ask the Brits to return not just the Kohinoor, but as requested earlier, our two other anmol ratans, Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi as well.
Coronation Day chatter would not be complete without mentioning Rishi Sunak, the brown man ruling the land of his former colonisers. Indians have been overjoyed at Sunak making history as the United Kingdom’s first Indian-origin prime minister. His ascent may have surprised many people but not his mother-in-law. In a recent interview, Sudha Murty, one of India’s most beloved writers, quipped, ‘‘I made my husband a businessman. My daughter made her husband Prime Minister of the UK.’
Her comment provoked immediate backlash but her light-hearted comment did have a certain verisimilitude. After all, standing beside every great man, there is often a woman constantly telling him what he is doing wrong. And she is usually right.
Let’s take a digression from rulers of land to the rulers of our cultural zeitgeist. Royalty in the virtual world doesn’t come with crowns or a 10 Downing Street address, it comes with a verified checkmark. On Twitter, the kings and queens of culture may or may not have blue blood but they definitely have a blue tick.
Elon Musk, who seems to run Twitter the way I try to lose weight, which basically means having no fixed plan and hoping for divine intervention, recently decided that no one would get a blue tick unless they paid for it. To his surprise, Elon bhai soon discovered that once the celebs lost their verified status, the rest of the Twitter tribe didn’t care if they had one or not. He forgot a simple rule: If everyone is naked then nudity doesn’t just become acceptable, it becomes desirable. After this ‘oops a daisy’ moment, Elon bhai abruptly gave celebrities their blue ticks back, claiming they had subscribed and verified their phone numbers. This resulted in blue ticks reappearing on accounts of dead people like the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and sportspersons like Pele and Kobe Bryant. I am still unsure how they verified their phone numbers for Twitter Blue unless Elon bhai used a psychic and a Ouija board.
Meanwhile, with blue running through their blood and account status, the Royal Family has been tweeting official portraits and recipes of their coronation quiche. I have a cousin who has already tried out the quiche recipe and a bunch of older relatives who have asked me to collect coronation memorabilia for them and bring it back home. So, I now have a bag full of plates decorated with pictures of Queen Camilla, coffee mugs with William and Kate grinning around the rim and a children’s sticker book with illustrations of King Charles. And yes, when I bought my Meghan mask, I also picked up a bunch of masks with pictures of the other royals, in case all my buas and phupha jis want to indulge in some royal role-play.
I can understand the British being invested in King Charles’ coronation, but so are a large number of Indians despite our legacy of colonisation and our convoluted relationship with the symbols of British imperialism.