It was better to avoid the plane to go to the coronation of Charles III, this Saturday. Security guards at Heathrow airport in London are on strike. Beyond the joke, the coincidence underlines the gap between the splendor that will be deployed during the ancestral ceremony at Westminster Abbey and the prosaic daily life of millions of Britons. From 2021, the Covid pandemic and the exit from the European Union strained the country’s economic situation. The war in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia have caused energy prices to soar. For many months, the inflation rate has been above 10% and wages have not kept up, whereas they had already been constrained during an austerity cure decided by the Cameron government about ten years ago. years. As a result, social discontent is brewing. Powerful and lasting protest movements are mobilizing nurses, teachers, transport personnel… The Don’t pay campaign against the payment of energy bills has been followed by hundreds of thousands of homes. The Enough is enough movement against the high cost of living, launched by unions, associations and left-wing elected officials, attracted half a million supporters in a few weeks during the summer of 2022 and remains very active on social networks (1).
This activism is unlikely to have any impact on the royal ceremonies this weekend. For more than three centuries, the British monarchy has been isolated from politics. The affairs of the State and the people are settled in Parliament. The function of royalty is to anchor the country in a centuries-old continuity, so many are proud. The late Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned for more than seventy years, was able to personify this attachment to tradition while embodying a monarch close to the people. His son Charles III is not reputed to have this charisma and the prospect of his coronation has hardly aroused enthusiasm. The splendor of the ceremony and the celebrations planned for three days should however serve as a welcome diversion. Windsor House also symbolizes, for many Britons and around the world, the great theater of life, with its pangs and its rejoicings – and it knows how to make the most of it!
The parenthesis closed, the United Kingdom will plunge back into a new post-Brexit political sequence. For ten years, the debates in Parliament and the ballot papers of voters have been magnetized by the question of identity. The issue of whether or not to belong to the European Union has broken the right/left partisan divide. It sharpened national feelings – English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh – and rejection of elites. But the effective exit from the EU and the ouster last year of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, one of its most vocal supporters, have begun to turn the page. Rishi Sunak’s government is concentrating on reorganizing the economy while the unions are trying to put the social question back at the heart of the debate. They are hardly helped by the Labor leader Keir Starmer, who is taking care of his liberal image in view of the general elections scheduled for next year. Seen from Buckingham Palace, do these games matter?