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6-7 May


An ancient clan that moves with the times

“Whenever I write about the royals, says Helen Lewis in The Atlantic, I find myself wondering how a family that owes its position to the “illegitimate son of a Norman noble invading Sussex in 1066” can so credibly claim to be at the vanguard of social change. But this ancient clan has a genius for moving with the times. Its latest chief, King Charles, has always embodied a unique blend of “eco-radicalism” and “deep traditionalism”, and the Coronation is no different. The oil used for his anointing will be vegan – he chose to spurn the traditional ambergris (derived from a whale’s guts) or civet musk (squeezed from a tree mammal’s anal glands). But tradition comes into play too: the oil will be from olives harvested from next to his grandmother Alice’s grave in Jerusalem. “It has been blessed by an Orthodox patriarch with a huge beard.”

Quirk of history

When Buckingham Palace released images of the Coronation invitation last month, says BBC News, the Royal Archives showcased invites from previous crownings. They include a depiction of King George III and Queen Charlotte looking wonderfully at ease with each other, despite having only met a fortnight earlier; Queen Victoria’s bright red card, the first to be printed in colour; George VI’s busy black-and-white design; and the simple one for Queen Elizabeth II designed by Joan Hassall, who also created a specially illustrated note for the then Prince Charles.


Eating in

Brits spend a lot of time defending their country from “outdated and unkind culinary stereotypes”, says The Economist. The “penitential” bean-and-spinach quiche unveiled as the official Coronation dish “does not make things easier”. Light on flavour, “stodgy”, and “deadeningly heavy”, it’s a throwback to the “patchouli-scented vegetarianism of the 1970s and 1980s”. And it’s nowhere near as good as King Charles’s mother’s celebratory dish, coronation chicken. The creamy number subtly hinted at the entente cordiale with France – its official name was Poulet Reine Elizabeth – and “nodded towards” the recently ended Raj with its use of curry powder and rice. Plus, of course, it was delicious. Have a go at the (rather fiddly) original recipe here, or Diana Henry’s excellent modern take – with mango and avocado – here.


quote 6.5.23 Murdoch

“Human affairs are not serious, but they have to be taken seriously.”

Iris Murdoch

Love etc

It took me a while to understand why King Charles is so in love with Camilla, says Jane Moore in The Sun. “Then the penny dropped. She makes him laugh.” Ever since he was in “short trousers”, everyone Charles has met has acted in the same way: “deeply earnest and frequently star-struck”. So of course he’s drawn to someone “grounded, easy-going and a little bit naughty”. A quick Google of “Charles and Camilla get the giggles” brings up images of the pair chortling at various stuffy ceremonies: a “cat organ” performance at Clarence House; viewing a photo album of pasties in Mexico; a performance by “throat singers” in Canada (above). The “consistently genial” Camilla is the perfect balance to her occasionally “moody” husband. She’s definitely “the power behind the throne”.

❤️👑 When Charles first met Camilla, in 1970, she is said to have introduced herself by saying: “My great-grandmother was the mistress of your great-grandfather – so how about it?”


Pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries tend to be viewed as “freewheeling booty-snatchers”, says Alice Loxton in The Daily Telegraph – renegade mercenaries who didn’t play by the rules. In fact, the opposite was true. Almost every aspect of the seafarers’ lives – drinking, gambling, weapon-care, sharing ill-gotten gains – was dictated by a “rigorous” set of regulations. All new recruits were forced to publicly swear to uphold the so-called “Pirates’ Code”, and miscreants faced stiff punishment – “keel-hauling”, for example, saw the condemned dragged across the barnacles under the ship. Points of dispute were resolved with “collective decisions” in something called the Common Council. And there were plenty of checks and balances to prevent the abuse of power. Even the captain could be voted out of his position, “if he proved to be a lily-livered scallywag”.

The Pirates’ Code by Rebecca Simon is available here.


The beach house

This two-bedroom mews house is minutes from Queens Promenade in Margate. Set across three storeys, it has an airy open-plan kitchen, original thick beams, exposed brick walls, and a roll-top bath from which you can look out across the sea. Margate Old Town is within walking distance and famed for its vintage theme park and seafood bistros. Trains to London St Pancras take 90 minutes. £450,000.

The castle

Earlshall Castle in Fife has a regal history, having hosted King Charles’s ancestors Mary Queen of Scots and James I. Set in 34 acres of parks and woodland, the 10-bedroom home has a wealth of period features, including oak panelling, traditional fireplaces and a 50ft gallery with the coats of arms of European royalty painted on the ceiling. Outside, ancient stone walls enclose a secret garden, a rose terrace and a bowling green. Nearby Leuchars station has direct trains to London. £8m.



quoted Lehane 7.6.23

“You’re either a fighter or a runner. And runners always run out of road.”

American author Dennis Lehane