But many residents of Portland don’t see it as a national saving but rather an imposition on a small town of 13,500. They complained that London chose to dock the barge on their shores because they were too far away as well as too small and too economically weak for their voices to be heard in the capital. There have been protests against the barge and counter protests against these protests. The opposition to asylum seekers here is emblematic of the larger opposition they face elsewhere in the U.K. and in Europe but with its particular set of local grievances that have contributed to an anti-refugee sentiment.
This dual function of church music, for both private worship and common enjoyment, could be a metaphor for the coronation itself, in its mix of the most extravagantly public gestures combined with private moments between clergy and king — one entirely hidden behind the “anointing screen,” another the personal act of taking Communion.
Reading the books, I was struck with their projection of a certain kind of Britishness. This is a country where its layfolk are forelock-tugging, deferential and tradition-loving. It is multicultural but only when it comes to those on the streets cheering on the king and queen as they ride down The Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace on coronation day in a gilded carriage.
Ahead of King Charles III’s coronation, the Kohinoor diamond, possibly the most infamous and divisive stone in history, has once again come under the limelight, this time due to its absence from the ceremony. However, questions about its repatriation have made a comeback, as always.
For a brief moment in the pre-9/11 world, the boxer known as Prince Naseem became an argument for what multiculturalism could look like and, later, a lament for what could have been, in the U.K. and beyond.
The pomp and ceremony of the farewell for Elizabeth II disguised a disunited nation where a dysfunctional center cannot hold and disaffected regions are peeling away.
Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the theory that she was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad has enjoyed a resurgence. But whether the British queen had a Muslim princess ancestor, the theory’s popularity speaks some harsh truths about postcolonial reality.