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The Press in London | “I am living a dream”

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(London) The coronation of Charles III seems to have fulfilled the expectations of thousands of people who had traveled to London to closely follow this historic event. But bad weather, organizational problems and demonstrators spoiled the party a bit.

“It’s so above all my expectations, I get caught out every now and then. I’m living a dream, I’m having a hard time realizing it, “said Audrey Houle, stars in her eyes. Barely 21 years old, this Quebecer, who has been passionate about the British monarchy since childhood, could not help attending the coronation in person. “As soon as we knew the date, we planned everything for the following week. »

With two friends and her boyfriend, she came to spend ten days in London. And to be sure not to leave disappointed, they spent the night from Friday to Saturday sleeping very close to the huge Mall so as not to miss anything. “It’s her childhood dream, so we came to make it happen. It’s not every day that there is a coronation, we take advantage of it, ”explains Alex Boisvert, who, for lack of great interest in the monarchy, even hesitated to accompany him.

Aware that the subject divides, especially in Quebec, Audrey Houle responds to the joke that she would like independence and monarchy to coexist one day. In the meantime, she savored every little royal moment.

As day broke and these Quebecers were delighted to have a good place to observe the procession of the king, at the other end of the Mall, near Trafalgar Square, the atmosphere was quite different. Yellow t-shirts and placards in hand, hundreds of people were not there to cheer for the new king, quite the contrary. “I am anti-monarchist. I think the monarchy is not compatible with our democracy, it perpetuates a system of inequalities,” said a protester who came with a sign that read “Abolition of the Monarchy.”

To cries of Not my king!, their presence clashed a little amid thousands of people in royal attire waving hundreds of British flags. If this movement says to oppose the monarchy, it seems however to have broader demands. Many demonstrators spoke of the significant economic difficulties facing the United Kingdom, evoking a country on the edge of the abyss.

British police, who have deployed 11,000 officers, said they arrested 52 protesters on Saturday on the sidelines of the coronation and defended the much-criticized arrests by explaining that they had been informed of plans to disrupt the historic event. “This is something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London,” protested Human Rights Watch.

Janny, in her seventies, didn’t want to miss the coronation for anything in the world. The one who lives in the county of Cumbria arrived in the early morning to be sure to have a good place. “It’s going to be a wonderful day, apart from the fact that I had to wake up very, very early, but hey, it seems that grannies do that,” she jokes, still a little breathless after a walk. a frantic pace.

Even though Charles III’s popularity rating is less than that of his late mother, for Janny it was just as important to follow this event.

For many, the coronation took place under umbrellas and in raincoats, the rain not having stopped throughout the ceremony. But it was not likely to put off the most passionate. “It was wonderful, the parade was beautiful, we had so much fun even though it was raining,” said Essex County resident Martin, who came to see the event with his daughter. But for others, the experience was less pleasant.

“It was an organizational disaster, a real shame. I won’t be coming back for another royal event,” said Lynn from Liverpool who couldn’t find a place to watch the ceremony, even though she arrived early Saturday morning. The same goes for this family who came especially from Worcester, a city in central England. “We’re disappointed, we haven’t seen anything but the rain. We’re going to watch the coronation tonight at our hotel, it’s kind of sad,” Debbie said.

By becoming the 40th crowned monarch in Westminster Abbey on Saturday, Charles III is writing a new chapter in the monarchy. If some people met during the coronation seemed to be more passionate about the monarchy than for his person, they still want to give him a chance while waiting for him to prove himself.

“I think there will be continuity with Charles III and we will revisit old traditions, but I also expect changes, given the economic context here. He will have to find a balance, ”says Louise D’Costa, in a dress with British colors. This Londoner came with her friend, also dressed in her best clothes for the occasion. For Paul Clifton, Charles III will have a major challenge, that of listening to society as it evolves.

“Let’s be honest, if the royal family wants to survive, they have to listen to public opinion and cultural demands. If she ignores them, I don’t think she will survive another 100 years, ”believes the one who came from Birmingham for the occasion. Indigenous leaders from 12 Commonwealth countries sent a letter to the new king this week asking for an apology and the return of cultural objects that were looted, such as the world’s largest diamond claimed by South Africa. South.

This Briton of South African origin wonders about these claims. She’s not sure that’s the right way to get things done. “Sometimes the story is the story. You have to forget the past and move forward, you can’t keep bringing it up again. We are all children of the British Empire,” says Pammy Raydemir, whose family of Indian origin was taken to South Africa under the British Empire. It remains to be seen now what will be the first actions of Charles III as the new king.