How Leicester celebrated King Charles’ coronation

The Gazette looks at how Leicester celebrated the King’s coronation, and we highlight the true cost.

A photo of newspapers celebrating the coronation © Adrian Raudaschl

The streets of Leicester and Leicestershire were lined with red, white, and blue bunting over the last few weeks to celebrate King Charles’ coronation. Across the city and county, local people organised events to bring the community together for a once in a lifetime event.

De Montfort University livestream

In Leicester city centre, crowds gathered in front of De Montfort University’s Vijay Patel building to watch an outdoor screening of the event. Even the rain couldn’t turn people away, with audiences turning up in waterproof gear and armed with umbrellas to take part in the historic viewing. Only 36 locations were chosen to stream the event, and over £1 million was made available by the Department of Culture, Media, and Sports to fund the big screens.

The Monarchy in Music

In Ratby, their Co-operative Brass Band entertained village audiences with a set list of show tunes. They were also raising money for the band with a raffle and cake sale full of coronation-themed goodies. Ratby wasn’t the only village to fill the streets with music, Hinckley was host to Music in the Mead, a coronation special event with performances from The Jazz Jones Orchestra.

Many events across the weekend hosted live music for residents to enjoy, including Syston’s Party in the Park, Melton Mowbray’s grant-funded coronation event and the Burbage Coronation Street Party. The coronation was an opportunity for councils to showcase local musical talent and raise money for the vital groups in and around Leicester.

Coronation crafts

There were also plenty of opportunities to get crafty in Leicestershire, to celebrate the coronation. The Leicester Museum and Art Gallery opened its doors to young visitors, so they could craft their own crowns and bunting for their street parties. With free admission and a recommended donation of £1, the event was an affordable way for families to celebrate the King’s coronation.

Arts and crafts were also available at Belgrave Hall and Guildhall. Both historic locations organised coronation celebrations that consisted of garden games, royal-themed crafts and other family-friendly activities. The Guildhall also organised Morris dancing and a maypole, to fill peoples’ May bank holiday with traditional British celebrations.

Parties for the former prince

Streets across Leicestershire were host to community parties in celebration of the coronation. Despite the weather, friends, families and neighbours came together to eat, drink and be merry. Libraries and community centres across the city also organised events, both centred around the coronation and wider community efforts, like litter picking and fundraising, taking place.

In Market Harborough, Welland Park was host to the Coronation Party in the Park, with entertainment from Radio HFH and several live performances. Glenfield organised the Big Coronation Brunch, while in Enderby, residents enjoyed their own Party in the Park, hosted by Leicester Animal Aid.

How much did the coronation cost?

A photo of a protestor holding a "abolish the monarchy" sign © Alisdare Hickson

In the lead up to the coronation, many people criticised how much the event cost UK taxpayers. In an article for The Independent, Laura Elston estimated the coronation cost between £50 million to £100 million. We can only go off estimates, because the royal family and the government didn’t reveal the budget for the coronation. In an era of strikes and sky-high energy bills, many people considered the pomp and ceremony to be tone-deaf, according to Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy campaign group, Republic. Smith was arrested at a republican protest in London during the coronation, in a widely condemned move.

In a survey by YouGov, 51% of the public shared his sentiment, and agreed that the King’s coronation should not be funded by the government. The highest proportion of people who disagreed with taxpayers footing the bill were 18 to 24-year-olds, as only 15% believed that the government should cover the cost. Interestingly, 18% of people questioned said that they “did not know”, indicating a lack of understanding, or apathy to the topic.

Tweet by @YouGov, which reveals sentiment around coronation funding

However, in a cost-benefit audit by Brand Finance, they found that the monarchy continues to have a positive financial impact on the UK’s economy. The Economic Times reported similar findings. In their article, it was estimated that the coronation was a net positive for the UK, as the boost to the tourism and hospitality sector off-balanced the cost to the taxpayer. These findings do not take into account the cost of an extra bank holiday, however, which reportedly led to a 0.7% fall in GDP, according to the Business Standard. They also omit security costs, which are hidden from the public.

Inevitably, we will have more royal events on the horizon, which may put even more pressure on the taxpayer.

What the coronation did succeed in doing, however, was bringing communities together and showcase the diverse talent in our city and surrounding suburbs.

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