Panic as King’s pals wait for invitation to the Coronation
THERE’S no doubt about it: Coronation fever is in the air. No, not at a certain ‘ Spanish Revival- style’, £11 million mansion in Montecito, California, which, by some accounts, boasts nine bedrooms and 19 bathrooms — and at which, according to their spokesman, an email recently arrived from Buckingham Palace, advising Harry and Meghan to ‘save the date’ for Saturday, May 6.
I refer, instead, to the tension brewing up in lesser dwellings — a stately home or two, as well as mere manor houses — which lack the gym, bar, five-car garage and other amenities of Harry and Meghan’s residence. These houses — some of them in need of almost continuous repair — are the homes of those who are, or have long considered themselves to be, good friends of King Charles and Camilla, but from whom the precious email has, so far, been withheld.
‘Some of them are furious, especially those who have made rather a lot about their royal friendships over the years,’ an amused grandee tells me. ‘They’re finding the wait excruciating. And, for some, it’s going to end in humiliation.’ Indeed it is. No fewer than 5,000 were crammed — almost crow-barred — into Westminster Abbey for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953.
‘Scaffolding was specially installed, so that you had row after row more or less sitting on top of each other,’ reflects a historian of the Abbey’s state occasions.
‘But that sort of Heath Robinson arrangement simply isn’t possible today because of health and safety.’
In consequence, no more than 2,000 will be able to attend this time. Aware of this, some, I’m told, have resorted to trying to emphasise their links to charities which are likely to be favoured with a handful of invitations. Camilla is, after all, patron of over 100 such bodies, ranging from Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie to the National Literacy Trust.
But such ploys, of course, offer no guarantee of an invitation, which will be sent by post only after prospective guests have received — and acknowledged — the prized, preliminary email.
I’m told by a royal source that the emails are being sent in batches — periodically. ‘It’s a practical arrangement,’ I’m assured.
Mine must be in among that lot . . .