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Kishwar Desai | King's German trip apt; as Covid tally climbing, boosters awaited


Published on: April 2, 2023 | Updated on: April 3, 2023

King Charles (DC File Photo)

The Easter break means school holidays — which means getting away with or without kids! And now this also means 14-hour car pile ups at the borders at Dover. Oh well, Brexit would have only made this worse, but then who are we to say anything? I am more and more keen on staycations — as even air travel has become a nightmare. Whether it is the high price of tickets, or unbearable queues at the security desks, it might just be time to take walks along the Thames and get a deck chair on South Bank for sunny days, and pretend one is at the Riviera or sunny Greece.

If there are French border controls to complain about — then there are other reasons to berate our neighbour… France itself has not been very friendly towards the soon-to-be coronated Prince Charles, as we have already had a cancellation of his planned visit to Paris. Expect the French to disappoint! But this time the fault was what we used to call the English disease. Strikes by public sector workers. President Macron wanted to warm up the entente cordiale. But it was too risky so he cancelled the invitation. Or rather postponed it.

It is difficult to believe that the Kohinoor is in the news again, because Queen Camilla has refused to wear it. Who would have thought that the disputed diamond would continue to rule the headlines even after so many centuries of being coveted by rulers, and taken away from the young Dalip Singh by duplicity?

This is where I wonder about the so called Khalistani agitation, or the misled "Waris Punjab De". If they are are truly the children of Punjab — they would know that the centre of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s empire was in Lahore, and that is what they should be aiming for. Why are they not agitating outside the Pakistan high commission, or trying to get the Kohinoor back from the British? Seriously, however, this grandstanding by a handful of misguided young men and women is very sad. In any case, apart from making a public nuisance of themselves and occupying the pavement at Aldwych — and inconveniencing the high commission, their presence was barely even noticed in the British media.  However, it was wise of the Indian authorities to get extra security, which should have been provided by the police, without asking. As always the Indian high commissioner, Vikram Doraiswami, handled a difficult situation very well.

We are just a month and bit away from the coronation of King Charles the Third, the first one this century and since the last one which was seventy years ago it will be standing room only even for members of Parliament as nobility from around the world will flock to watch this rare spectacle. And yes, folks — be prepared for a huge boost in tourism! The royals remain the biggest draw this country has to offer.

So now it was Germany which scooped the prize for the first royal visit in Europe by Charles III. Quite appropriate. After all, the Windsors used to be called the Hanovers in times gone by. Queen Anne, the last of the daughters of a Stuart king to succeed to the throne died without an heir. So the tiny duchy of Hanover supplied the heir — George the First. The rest is history except that when at war with Germany in 1914, Hanovers changed their names to Windsor — taken from the local village where they owned a castle or two. Their friends the Battenbergs became Mountbattens. Another instance where a change of name can change history! Can you think of another — I certainly can!

As coronations go, the English find them addictive. We have all gone fuzzy with the rate at which Prime Ministers kept changing last year. The present Prime Minister has outsmarted the doomsayers and has now lasted respectably long. He won a crucial vote in the House of Commons despite a slice of his backbenchers voting against him. It was all about repairing the damage caused by Brexit. So all Opposition supported Rishi Sunak while his own party split. But it is difficult to say that all is clear as old habits have not died yet. Rumour has it that Boris Johnson is seeing his old teammates and plotting a "comeback". It is looking unlikely.

Hours of Boris being grilled on television over "party gate" has made one wonder at the trivialisation of politics.

What is making a comeback, albeit sadly, is Covid, as latest figures show that the infections are climbing to their highest numbers yet. And so a fresh round of boosters will be given soon. Even now there are more than 8,000 Covid infected people in NHS hospitals in England alone. We have all learnt that there are serious risks, but one hopes that masking up is history as we ride the wave.