After the deluge of Coronation Day, the sun poked out from behind the clouds to shine on many of the 67,000 Big Lunch street parties taking place up and down the country to mark the occasion.
Members of the Royal family attended events ahead of last night’s concert in Windsor hosted by Hugh Bonneville. The actor is known for his role in the Paddington films, in a poignant echo of Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee party last summer in which she took part in a televised skit with the émigré ursine Peruvian. That was one of her late Majesty’s final public appearances after 70 years on the throne.
Her Coronation in 1953 was also bedevilled by dreadful weather, especially unseasonal for June, as was that of her father, George Vl, held in May. Late spring may look meteorologically inviting for event planners and yet rarely is. On the other hand, both the King’s immediate predecessors were much loved, so the auguries are good for his reign.
Once again, this country’s detractors were confounded by the joy and community spirit on show throughout the weekend. Without a national day of the sort the Americans and French stage every year, events such as these are an opportunity for unabashed patriotism and a celebration of nationhood vested in the institution of monarchy.
It was also a chance to see the succession on show, with the Prince of Wales paying homage to his father while Prince George also had a prominent role as a page. At the Windsor concert last night, Prince William paid tribute both to his grandmother and to the King, emphasising their commitment to people “of all faiths, backgrounds and communities”.
This synthesis of unity and diversity, of a country that looks very different to the way it did 70 years ago but retains its characteristics of tolerance and stability, was one of the underlying themes of the Coronation.
The absence of Harry, who hot-footed it back to California almost before the ceremonials had ended, was sad confirmation of the rift with his father and sibling, but failed to mar the occasion.
Despite the presence of a few hundred republican protestors, ably handled by the police using new laws, the majority of the great crowd in central London on Saturday and millions watching on television witnessed a spectacle that will live long in the memory. Unfortunately more rain is forecast for the extra Bank Holiday Monday added to mark the Coronation, threatening to put a damper on proceedings once again.