In the end, I didn’t go. Not for want of being invited but for a devastating lack of interest. To quote Evan Dando of indie-rock cuddle toys, ‘The Lemonheads’, ‘what if something’s on TV and it’s never shown again?’ Ultimately, I didn’t need the hassle of travelling to Britain and back all for the sake of being bored witless. It’s been said that the winter solstice is the longest night of the year, but anyone who thinks that has never seen a coronation. Sorry, your Majesty, I simply can’t be bothered.
Luckily, I’m not the only one. In fact, I join a fairly salubrious list of people to issue a polite but firm ‘no’ to the King. Singers are steering clear, considering the event to be the poor cousin of the MET Gala. Ed Sheeran, Adele, the Wiggles and what’s left of the Bay City Rollers have all decided to ‘fresh air’ the Monarchy. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ted Nugent was the only one left.
I can imagine Ted, bare-chest glistening in the sun and standing astride the steeple of Westminster Abbey whilst performing a thirty minute rendition of ‘Rule Britannia’ at maximum volume, having moments earlier hunted down a wild boar in Hyde Park with nothing but his hands and teeth. It would, I feel, set the tone for the event. Probably F-sharp. But you never can tell with Ted – he’s unpredictable.
The Palace was desperate for me to play. So desperate, in fact, they said I could play anything I wanted for however long I liked. I’ll admit I was incredulous. To test their enthusiasm, I proposed a selection of Nickelback songs, starting with a rendition of ‘Photograph’ performed on nothing but coconut husks and an empty jam jar and they agreed with such unbridled eagerness that I thought I’d been misheard. Only when I repeated myself and their fervour was wholly undiminished did I realize how much trouble they were in.
Whilst I’m sure I was at the top of their list, the cavalcade of refusals means they’ve had to invite people who’d otherwise never get a look in. Still, it was a surprise to learn that our Prime Minister was invited. Perhaps less surprisingly, he accepted. Given that he’d just taken up an invite to attend Kyle Sandilands’ wedding, it’s clear that his threshold for accepting a free feed is not especially high. That said, I believe our Prime Minister has been denied the opportunity to perform a ceremonial role, despite his generous offer to oversee the valet parking service and drive one of the complimentary shuttle buses.
I, on the other hand, had been pegged to play a far more significant role. The job of official ‘Crown- cobbler’ is pivotal. Although the title sounds a lot like a potential dessert, the ‘Crown-cobbler’ is solely responsible for making sure the King’s shoes are in good working order with fresh laces. It was a job created following the disastrous crowning of George the Third after he turned up for his big day wearing a pair of Velcro Hush Puppies.
But I had to let Charles (or, as I call him, ‘Chuckles’) down. Truth be told, I wasn’t just disinterested; I was hurt. We’d been pals ever since ‘Rocking with the Royals’ at Hamer Hall in 1985. He and his then-wife attended as honoured guests and I was there in my capacity as choirboy back up singer for ‘Kids in the Kitchen’. It was inevitable that we’d bump into each other. Although I was only a teenager at the time, I found his Majesty crying in a bathroom cubicle trying to figure out how to get the Velcro on his Hush Puppies to stick. In that moment of crisis, I came to his aid and we’d been fast-friends ever since.
But sometimes, in the best interests of everyone, a friendship must come to an end. Ours unraveled when I told Chuckles that I’d be wearing my gold coronation cape. I’ve had it forever and I only wear for special events like the coronation of a major monarch or the Hastings Day Parade. When Charles told me that he too was wearing a gold coronation cape and that I’d be shot on sight if I wore mine, I instantly decided that the time had come to cut him loose.
But it wasn’t just the cape that soured things. He mumbled something about ‘swearing allegiance’ that I mistook as a reference to a guy in my under-11s football team, Lee Gent, whose entire vocabulary seemed to consist of profanities and is now a vacuum salesman living in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Why the King of England was interested in swearing Lee Gent’s Hoover Caroline Springs was beyond me. But then it hit me – with all the force of gold coronation cape – he wanted me to swear allegiance to the King. After all we’d been through together, I felt insulted.
I refused to watch the telecast. More than that, I’ve vowed to avoid using cash ever again in the hope of not having to set eyes on that cape-wearing, thunder-stealing, Hush Puppy-loving ingrate. Now that I think about it, the entire thing seems kind of, well, faintly ridiculous. The very idea of a king of anything is an outrageous notion from another age. Enough is enough. Monarch my words, if this doesn’t propel us headlong towards a Republic, nothing will.