Do enjoy these days approaching Saturday’s Coronation. On Tuesday I stood with Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, the Leader of the official opposition, and Harriet Harman, mother of the house, in the Great Westminster Hall with the Speaker’s golden coach behind.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle presented us to King Charles III after the National Anthem was sung. From a poacher’s pocket, I brought out the Commonwealth card created by a West Park Church of England primary pupil.
‘Dear King Charles. I am proud my card was chosen to represent Worthing. I hope you enjoy my card and have a wonderful coronation.’ The card depicts the royal couple sat on a QEII memorial bench looking at Commonwealth flags.
I added: ‘Your subjects from Worthing West in Worthing and Arun send heartfelt best wishes and congratulations on your ascension to the throne. We look forward to celebrating together with the nation and the Commonwealth. We wish you a long and happy reign with Her Majesty The Queen.’
Designs for a card that might be sent or presented to the King were invited from the communities of Rustington, East Preston, Ferring and Worthing. The runner up from St Oscar Romero Catholic school in Goring by Sea was ‘A New Dawn: God Save the King’. It illustrated the beautiful South Coast view from Highdown Hill.
My father’s military medals have the addition of the 1953 Coronation award; he had been a steward outside the Abbey. My mother brought my elder sister and me to the Mall. We had cardboard periscopes to look over the shoulders of taller people.
The chance of rain on Saturday has increased. If it comes, let us hope it will be light and refreshing.
The King and Queen moved slowly through the assembled Lords, Commons and staff. They engaged with many. The Coronation quiche recipe for this special occasion follows the Coronation chicken seventy years ago. The task then was to have food available for hungry guests from overseas.
On Saturday I was in the Strand, making an impromptu street address about how election candidates and parties are alternatives. The only enemies are apathy and ignorance. People should care and they should know the opportunities to contribute to making decisions or choosing those to do on their behalf.
A student from the United States worked with me about 20 years ago when taking a Masters’ course at Cambridge. He went on to become an intelligence colonel in the US Air Force National Guard before gaining election to Congress in the House of Representatives. He expects to join our South Coast Coronation Dinner to hear Town Cryer Robert Smytherman declare the Proclamation.
Our interns and Westminster staff do well. One is now a Police and Crime Commissioner; another holds the rank of Royal Navy Captain. One wrote on Turkey for the Financial Times and for The Economist: he was followed by a woman who went on to report overseas for the BBC. It helps constituents and me to have a member of staff who lives in the constituency or who attended Worthing College.
This week I had a meeting with the Home Secretary. I will follow up with details of what may become know as Alan’s Law, trying to deal more effectively with the small number of young offenders who can ruin lives and harm their own futures, allowed to get away with potentially murderous attacks by a system that hides relevant information from courts and prosecutors.
When talking this week with Stephen Lawrence’s mother, the Baroness (Doreen) Lawrence, I recalled that those who killed her son had attacked another youth. The first prosecution failed. Had it not, Stephen might today be a distinguished recognised architect. During the King’s reign, let us do better together.