Screening the moment of crowning King Charles III in Christ Church's Cathedral
The audience watching the moment of crowning King Charles III in Christ Church's Cathedral

Oxford reacts to King Charles’s coronation

On the 6th May, St Edward’s Crown was placed on King Charles III’s head, recognising him as sovereign of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. King Charles’s coronation involved the presentation of the Coronation Oath Bible and the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, coronation speeches, and choral and orchestral performances in Westminster Abbey.

Queen Camilla was recognised using a consort crown originally created for Mary of Teck. 

Reporters for The Oxford Student walked through the city of Oxford to learn about ways in which the Oxford community reacted to and celebrated the coronation.

Coronation ceremony screening in Christ Church Cathedral

Image credit: Canqi Li

A live screening of King Charles’s coronation ceremony was organised from 11am in the cathedral of Christ Church, St Aldate’s. Dozens of people, including members of the University of Oxford, gathered in front of the cathedral’s TV screens to watch the broadcast.

Caleb McConnell, MSc student in Taxation at Christ Church, found the “post-ceremony celebrations” a highlight of the coronation broadcast. 

For US tourists Paul and Sheryl Shakeshaft, the best moment of the screening was when King Charles III received his crown. “The setting was also a perfect place to watch the ceremony,” Sheryl Shakeshaft added.

Revd Jane Chaffey, Chaplain and Fellowship Group Tutor of Wycliffe Hall and wife of the Archdeacon of Oxford and Residentiary Canon of Christ Church Jonathan Chaffey, found the coronation ceremony “very moving”. “It was wonderful to be able to watch it here in Christ Church and feel that you were almost part of the actual ceremony in Westminster,” she said.

To celebrate the coronation, McConnell will drink a few glasses of champagne, the Shakeshafts will go to a pub, and Chaffey will join her family for an afternoon tea and supper. 

Anti-monarchy protest in downtown Oxford 

Image credit: Charlie Bowden

Many came out to voice their disapproval of the coronation during King Charles’s coronation ceremony in spite of the rain. An anti-royal protest was organised by the activist group No More Royals on Broad Street. Called an ‘anti-monarchy street party’, the event included live music, speeches, and food and drink.

An attendee of the protest called the coronation a “high profile example of how we struggle to have an intelligent or imaginative conversation in this country about power” and said that they disliked the “stifling conformity” of past royal events such as Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee last year.

A participant in the protest said that the coronation was “completely unnecessary” and “anti-democratic”, calling the royal family “dismissive of society in general”. They said they would be “very surprised” if the media made much fuss about the coronation protests because of the “power of the establishment and what they will do to keep the status quo”. 

They also said that recent government legislation limiting the right to protest was creating a “very worrying situation” for protesters. Graham Smith, CEO of anti-monarchist campaign group Republic, was arrested in Trafalgar Square before the coronation began.

One of the organisers of the Broad Street protest commented on the backlash that No More Royals and other groups have faced for their coronation protests. They said that they were “degraded and patronised” by prominent conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn and have faced “consistent social media hate”.

However, they said that they believe the pushback to come from a “very small and very angry minority”.

They also mentioned a serious incident that took place outside Trinity College, where the group had hung up a banner. Two Trinity students had reportedly shouted verbal abuse at protesters, spit at them, and allegedly drew a knife. They have reported the situation to the College and the police. 

A leaflet for the protest highlighted some of the reasons No More Royals want to remove the monarchy: its participation in and continued benefitting from imperialism and colonialism; its entitlement to a “long list of unjust privileges”; and the UK’s head of state leading a church that does not allow same-sex marriage.

Oxford’s colleges have had a difficult historic relationship with the crown. In the 17th century, Magdalen College moved from being a royalist stronghold in the Civil War to the epicentre of James II’s deposition forty years later. A dispute between the fellows and the king as to who had the right to appoint the college’s president spiralled rapidly, in tandem with other controversies, to become the key to the Glorious Revolution.

Coronation mini beer festival at St Aldates Tavern

Image credit: Canqi Li

Pubs around Oxford are celebrating King Charles’s coronation in their own ways. St Aldates Tavern hosted a beer festival on the day of the coronation following an open mic event on Friday and a live coronation screening on Saturday

Free sandwiches using the coronation chicken spread created for Elizabeth II’s coronation were served throughout the beer festival, attracting a large number of customers.

The beer festival featured Renegade beers, XT’s coronation beer with a special logo, and new varieties of Lilley’s Cider. “The Renegade is received very well,” Klaudia Sosnowska, general manager of St Aldates Tavern, told The Oxford Student. “People [also] love XT’s “Animal” line – every two weeks, they feature a different animal, so it’s very interesting to have them on a tap.”

“The locals are just a few miles away from us. And overall, people really like drinking beer in England, so it’s going well,” Sosnowska added. She also stated that although the ciders are not doing very well, she thinks they are “probably drinks for a better weather”.

Stephen Dockery, father of a student at St Edmund’s Hall from Birmingham, savoured the XT coronation beer and said that it was “just the way I like to drink”. He called the drink “really hoppy and fruity, and it’s just the right temperature”.

Future coronation events organised by the Tavern include the serving of coronation Eton mess on Sunday and a pop quiz at the end of the bank holiday. 

Comments from pedestrians on Cornmarket Street

Shu Lo, a tourist from Taiwan, told The Oxford Student that she has not and probably will not attend any coronation-related events. Despite only visiting the UK for a short time, Lo thinks “King Charles will do the best he can” as a new king.

Tourists Nigel Bonson and Clare Bonson both believe that King Charles will be a good king. “We watched every detail of the coronation ceremony all morning, and tomorrow we’re going to the coronation concert in Windsor Castle,” Clare Bonson said regarding their celebration plans.

Hannah Chapman, Yuki Kono, and Chihiro Akike, students at Oxford Brookes University reading History, English literature, and Global Communications respectively, hope that King Charles will be a good king. To celebrate the coronation, Chapman and Kono attended a coronation party at their university earlier on Saturday where they “ate food, watched the coronation, and had coronation hats and whistles”. 

Oxford University members’ contributions to the coronation

Image credit: UK Government via an Open Government License 3

Lady Elish Angiolini KC, the Principal of St Hugh’s College, served a prominent position in King Charles’s coronation, acknowledging her years of public service. She is a lawyer who has held prestigious positions as Solicitor General for Scotland and Lord Advocate of the Scottish Government.

Her ceremonial position was part of the act of Recognition of His Majesty, at the beginning of the order of service at Westminster Abbey. By speaking the words “I here present unto you King Charles, your undoubted King”, she took part in presenting the King to the congregation.

She was joined in this presentation by the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Cross recipient Christopher Finney, and Labour life peer Baroness Amos.

Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, former Principal of Mansfield College, also performed a role in the coronation. She accompanied Queen Camilla to the altar, carrying The Queen Consort’s Rod. 

Baroness Kennedy is also a lawyer promoting civil liberties and human rights in the system as well as driving the establishment of Oxford’s Bonavero Institute of Human Rights.

Pembroke College alumnus and Honorary Fellow Tarik O’Regan composed “Agnus Dei”, one of the choral pieces recited during the ceremony. O’Regan has received two Grammy nominations and two British Composer Awards for his compositions throughout his career.

Councillor James Fry’s coronation regrets

Image credit: Canqi Li

The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor James Fry, expressed “regret” that the Lord Mayor’s traditional role as assistant butler at the coronation was not upheld for this year’s ceremony. 

He said that “the vital work of local government in Oxford and elsewhere should be acknowledged and traditions like a role at the Coronation demonstrate this”.

The tradition is thought to date back to the tenth century. It originally involved helping to put the monarch’s shoes on and often resulted in a knighthood for whichever Lord Mayor performed the duty. In 2022 Fry was enthusiastic about possibly participating but doubted he would be “called upon to do any ‘buttling’”. 

Despite his regret, Fry emphasised the importance of holding coronation celebrations. “The street parties offer our city’s diverse communities an opportunity to celebrate,” he said in a previous Yahoo! article on Oxford coronation street parties. 

“I hope that neighbours will enjoy this chance to come together and mark this once in a generation occasion,” he added.