Remarks at the open microphone, Westminster Security Studies Group Coronation Dinner, 5 May 2023. Numbers indicate location of material removed for delivery,
but restored as endnotes.
 In many countries in the world, there is a nation-as-person metaphor that appears in the discourse of national holidays such as independence days. It goes like this:
The country was undeveloped, immature, a sort of caterpillar raised and nurtured by a parent, a colonizer nation who released it when it had learned enough from the parent to stand on its own two feet as an adult among nations. (You can see whose point of view this narrative represents.)
A day is chosen to commemorate the separation, standing at once for the nation’s birthday and its day of emancipation. This is a narrative that grew up in the 19th and 20th centuries, the age of imperialism and emergence from imperialism.
In Britain there is no such narrative of the nation achieving independence and establishing the present regime. What moment could we possibly choose to represent separation from a past regime and/or establishment of the present regime? Would it be when the last Roman checked out of Britain? Or how about the Restoration? But the idea of the Restoration was that there was never a break–Charles II was king all along. Perhaps the union with Scotland represents the origin of the current national arrangement, but that’s now a bit awkward with independence referenda going round. Britain seems to be stuck in an eternal maturity–a late maturity, even post-maturity.
Britain does have a mapping of life cycle x nation, but it takes a different form. The nationally significant life cycle that has been naturalized is the life cycle of the monarch and his family. We observe their rites of passage; indeed, we are invited guests. We compare ourselves to the members who are closest in age to us. 
Relatability to the Royal Family gives us a key to the nation and its history. This too is a nineteenth-century relic; the Royal Family started to become a public serial (*by which I meant soap opera) with Queen Victoria.
Incidentally, although the life cycle metaphor works differently in Britain to other countries, national days and Royal Family events are marked in much the same ways: with flags and parades and fire and food and drink and concerts.  
So what can we relate to about the Coronation? It is not a rite of passage that the rest of us go through. You might even say that’s the point: to mark off the monarch from all commoners and pretenders as God’s chosen monarch.
However: the day after the Queen’s funeral I started a new job. My starting date was pushed back because of the funeral, in fact. A few weeks ago, I passed my six-month probation.
Charles too has survived half a year in his new job. He is lucky that he did not have a six-month appraisal, not did he have to prepare a portfolio or engage in any contests of strength or skill.* He is the inevitable monarch. Nevertheless, congratulations, sir, on passing your six-month probation!
 Removed: section asserting that the most important transfer of power this week is the local elections.
 Removed: observation that the Royal Family has recently given many siblings cause to reflect again on accidents of birth order.
 Removed: TED talk based on my thesis about how media evaluate public celebrations of nationalism on dimensions of impressiveness, appropriateness, and enthusiasm.
 Removed: section about how there are two views of nationalistic practice in sociology: the functionalist view, which proposes that institutions like royal families and practices like parades have some functions in binding the community together–‘civic religion’ is one term used–and a more Marxist view that says these institutions and practices are just forced on us through the threat of violence, because the ruling elites *can* make themselves the center of attention. And certainly the British monarchy was established and periodically re-established through violence.
* To be fair, neither do we in my workplace, but I wanted to keep at least one point about inequality.