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As UK Prepares for Charles' Coronation, Indians in London Feel Lukewarm at Best

Businesses in Southall do not intend to capitalise on the coronation, unlike their Central London counterparts.

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South Asians
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Days before the coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as King and Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, London readies itself for the hundreds of thousands expected to arrive in the city for the historic weekend.

On The Mall, the Kilometer long stretch from Admiralty Arch to the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, dedicated royalists have already set up camp to ensure a clear view of the royal couple as they proceed to Westminster Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach and back again, after their crowning, in the Gold State Coach.
Businesses in Southall do not intend to capitalise on the coronation, unlike their Central London counterparts.

Dedicated royalists have already set up camp on The Mall, London, May 1, 2023.

(Photo Courtesy: Anida Ramaswamy)

Notable is that the stretch is lined not only with posts bearing union jacks, but all 53 flags of the commonwealth nations, including India.

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Watching a Changing of the Guard ceremony, Dilip Rawal, 67, a retired civil servant from Delhi, who is on a coach tour around Europe with his wife, finds that the preparations have made his visit to London all the more exciting.

“This is my first time coming to London so we are feeling lucky we have come at a special time when history is being made. We will not be in the UK on the coronation day but seeing all the flags and decorations and pictures of the new King makes us feel like we are a part of the celebration.”
Dilip Rawal

Beyond The Mall on Piccadilly, perhaps the closest shopping street, iconic boutiques and department stores have dressed their windows in tribute to the new monarch and all things royal, whilst souvenir stalls sell coronation paraphernalia beneath canopies of Union Jacks and banners strung between buildings and street lamps.

The celebrations are not limited to London, however, as borough councils are organising live screenings of the coronation, picnics and concerts in local parks whilst residential groups up and down the country are arranging old-fashioned street parties.

National supermarkets are even participating in the coronation revelry, offering Union Jack party accessories, limited-edition snacks, and convenience food in quintessential British flavours, like ‘coronation chicken.’

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Amidst a long-term trend of declining support for the monarchy, however, it would be fair to say that not all have caught the coronation bug, with a recent YouGov poll finding 67% of people of colour of any age were "not interested" in the royal family.

Businesses in Southall do not intend to capitalise on the coronation, unlike their Central London counterparts.

Aside from a couple of instances of token recognition in the form of a life-size cardboard cut-out of the new king in a pharmacy and an A4 print-out glued onto the door of a Sri Lankan delicatessen.

(Photo Courtesy: Anida Ramswamy)

Aside from a couple of instances of token recognition in the form of a life-size cardboard cut-out of the new king in a pharmacy and an A4 print-out glued onto the door of a Sri Lankan delicatessen, it seems the businesses in Southall do not intend to capitalise on the coronation, unlike their Central London counterparts.

Even the famous and aptly named, Prince of Wales pub has no plans, as of yet, to host a live screening of the coronation, with a bartender anticipating that customers will be more interested in watching the football on Saturday.

Speaking to locals, it is clear that the South Asian community has mixed feelings towards the coronation. For Andeep Singh, 27, an Indian-origin accountant born and raised in London, the coronation will be interesting to watch but not particularly important.

“I’m curious to see how the ceremony happens as I’ve not seen anything like this before, so I’ll watch it on the TV, but I’m not too bothered about the new king himself. It’s good that we get a long weekend - I think that’s what I’m most excited for.”
Andeep Singh (27)
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For some Indians living in the UK, the coronation and the celebration of royalty appears out of tune in today’s age, perhaps due most to the associations between the royal family and Britain’s problematic colonial past. 
Businesses in Southall do not intend to capitalise on the coronation, unlike their Central London counterparts.

For some Indians living in the UK, the coronation and the celebration of royalty appears out of tune in today’s age.

(Photo Courtesy: Anida Ramswamy)

Saarang Narayan, 28, a PhD scholar living in Leeds from India, finds the monarchy outdated and the coronation of a new monarch unnecessary. “I don’t have anything planned at all. I’m primarily a republican with regard to the monarchy so I’m not too bothered about the coronation. There are remnants of monarchy across the world but I don’t think it’s as prominent anywhere as it is in England. Frankly, it’s a bit baffling that a country that legitimised its rule over more than half the world by claiming to be modern and a beacon of enlightenment is also at the same time built upon an institution that is so deeply feudal.”

Whilst there appears to be a sense of disconnect between a sizeable percentage of the UK’s Indian-origin population and Saturday’s coronation, the official ceremony and festivities have been organised to include representation from across the commonwealth, including India.

During the ceremony, King Charles will be anointed behind a specially-designed anointing screen which includes the names of the 56 Commonwealth nations and Indian-origin peers will join the ceremonial procession, representing the Hindu and Sikh communities for the first time at a British coronation.

A nod to Indian pop culture and its place in British society, Indian actress Sonam Kapoor is also set to perform a spoken-word piece at the coronation concert to be held at Windsor Castle on the 7th of May.

Back in Central London, student Neha Pandey, 22, who is originally from Mumbai, feels that the choice to feature an Indian film star is a promising suggestion of a more inclusive monarchy.

“I think it shows a bit of progression in the mindset, that Britain is proud of the commonwealth and admires the different cultures that it includes. I’m excited to see how else India might be represented or incorporated into the events!”
Neha Pandey (22)

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