Patrick Gorman: Coronation a moment to reflect on our national identity


We love big things in Western Australia. We are proudly Australia’s largest State. We have the Super Pit. And today many of us will be glued to the world’s largest official ceremony of 2023.

The coronation of King Charles III in Westminster Abbey will have a special resonance for WA. Along with our constitutional links, England is the most common birthplace of migrants to the West.

It is meaningful for every Australian including longstanding monarchists, and for republicans like myself.

The coronation will be the first broadcast across the globe. The first in the age of satellites, streaming and social media. A first for anyone under 70 years old.

When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, television was still three years away. Cinemas across Australia were filled with audiences eager to watch the documentary A Queen is Crowned. Coronation folders containing a photo of the Queen were presented to 90,000 Australian school children. Premier Bert Hawke represented WA at the coronation some 30 years before his nephew Bob would become prime minister. From inside Westminster Abbey, prime minister Sir Robert Menzies filmed proceedings on a personal handheld camera.

Unsurprisingly, the coronation was followed by an opinion poll showing a never repeated 77 per cent of Australians expressing their support for the monarchy. Planning quickly began for the Queen’s visit to Australia in 1954, when an estimated three-quarters of the Australian population caught a glimpse of the new Queen during her tour of 57 towns and cities over 58 days.

So what will Australians do in 2023? Homes across the country will watch live on Saturday evening. A national 21-gun salute and flyover will mark the occasion at Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday. Significant buildings and monuments will be lit up in royal purple. Here in Perth you can watch at Northbridge Piazza. Some of us will try our hand, and some may fail, at making coronation quiche.

Fourteen Australians will join the Prime Minister, Jodie Haydon, Their Excellencies the Governor-General and Mrs Hurley at the ceremony in London. The next sitting of Parliament will make a statement congratulating His Majesty.


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