Editorial: A new king for a new era. We wish him well along his way

King Charles attends the Commonwealth reception at Marlborough House, London, yesterday ahead of his coronation today. Photo: Anna Gordon/PA Wire© PA


Almost 70 years ago Elizabeth II was awakened at 6am on her coronation day, to be given the news of another historic event 6,400km away.

Word had just come in that Edmund Hillary and his sherpa Tenzing Norgay had become the first climbers confirmed to conquer Mount Everest. Today at Westminster Abbey, her son Charles will be crowned king reaching his own personal summit, in a €125m extravaganza.

There will be many more mountains to climb as he presides over church and state in an age where monarchies are seen as something of an anachronism. Whether this will be the last great spectacle of royal pomp and ceremony remains to be seen.

Yet no-one can accuse the new king of being anything but forward-looking. He was a committed conservationist long before climate change was seen as an urgent global priority. In the messy aftermath of our post-Brexit age, one might even argue the role of the royals could be elevated diplomatically.

For his own part, the king has worked hard to be a transformative figure, forging better relationships with this island and others.

On a visit to Waterford in 2022 he said; “Ireland is a country that means more to us than I can possibly say,” before quipping: “It has long been one of our great ambitions to visit every county of this majestic land before senility totally overtakes us.”

Nor has he tried to step away from the bleak shadows of colonial injustice.

The previous year when Barbados finally ditched the British crown he attended proceedings, commenting: “From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our histories, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.

“Emancipation, self-government and independence were your waypoints. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.”

He remained dignified and loyal for decades as his mother remained monarch and many believed his moment had passed.

As a divorcé and admitted adulterer no-one can deny he has led anything but a full life. So full in fact, it frequently caused consternation for the “Firm” attempting to neither frighten the horses nor crease the starchy protocols.

Today’s centuries-old ceremony still involves a polished solid gold crown, a coronation chair, a sceptre and rod, multiple swords, a tall mace, an orb, and even a “stone of destiny”.

Thus ushering the Windsors into the 21st century will require nuance and innovation. Anointing a family to be the public face of a nation in perpetuity is a big ask in the switched-on 24/7 media maelstrom.

His father Prince Philip, once notoriously remarked: “When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.”

King Charles is opening the door on a new era, we can but wish him well along the way.