Coronation of King Charles III: World leaders hail coronation celebrations, but Scottish politicians remain divided
Political leaders from across Scotland, the UK, and the world sent their congratulations to King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their coronation.
The historic day was heralded as the birth of a “new era” by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he praised the “dazzling display” in London. First Minister Humza Yousaf attended the ceremony at Westminster Abbey with his wife Nadia El-Nakla, as did several other Scottish MSPs and MPs.
However, many high-profile politicians from Scotland’s governing SNP and Green parties headed to a pro-independence rally in Glasgow and an anti-monarchy demonstration in Edinburgh.
There was also criticism from Scottish politicians of the Metropolitan Police’s handling of protests by republican campaigners in London, after images of arrests were shared widely online.
The guest list for the coronation included political leaders from around the world. Among them were French president Emmanuel Macron, Irish president Michael D. Higgins, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese and Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mr Sunak, the Conservative leader, said: “Today’s coronation is a moment of extraordinary national pride. No other country could put on such a dazzling display.
"But it is not just a spectacle. It’s a proud expression of our history, culture, and traditions. It is a vivid demonstration of the modern character of our country, and a cherished ritual through which a new era is born.”
US president Joe Biden was not in the UK, but First Lady Jill Biden, and their granddaughter Finnegan, did attend the celebrations. On Twitter, Mr Biden said: “Congratulations to King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their coronation.
“The enduring friendship between the US and the UK is a source of strength for both our peoples. I am proud the First Lady is representing the United States for this historic occasion.”
First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska was also in the abbey, having met Mrs Biden and the Princess of Wales at an official reception for the coronation on Friday.
She sent a message to the King and Queen, saying: “It is a great honour for me to be here and represent Ukraine, especially now. Wish you many years of reign.” Meanwhile, Mr Macron said: “Congratulations to King Charles III and Queen Camilla, friends of France. Proud to be by your side on this historic day.”
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said: “The coronation is a testament to the enduring strength of the British monarchy. A symbol of stability and continuity.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Today, Britain comes together to welcome His Majesty The King to the throne. God Save The King.” Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, was another to mark the historic event.
"Today – in a ceremony whose place, purpose, and personnel are essentially unchanged for 1,000 years – we celebrate the continuity of our country and our institutions,” he said. "Let’s unite behind Charles III and wish a long, happy life to him and Queen Camilla.”
Several MSPs were in London for the event, including Alison Johnstone, the Scottish Parliament’s presiding officer. She said: “On behalf of the Scottish Parliament, I convey my warmest wishes to Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their Coronation. It was an honour to represent the Scottish Parliament at this historic occasion.”
Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, tweeted he was also “part of the Scottish contingent here today”, alongside Parliament chief executive David McGill and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he was “extremely honoured” to have been invited to the coronation. His colleague Stephen Kerr, a Tory MSP for Central Scotland, posted: “An unbelievably positive day. All grumps have been drowned out by the scale of national enjoyment.”
Mr Yousaf, the SNP leader, had previously said he was looking forward to attending the coronation. “I know many people in Scotland will want to send their best wishes to King Charles III and Queen Camilla on this historic occasion,” he said.
The Royal Standard has been flying over St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh for the coronation weekend. During his leadership campaign, the first minister had said he would speak at an All Under One Banner independence march in Glasgow on the same day as the coronation.
He changed his mind after taking the top job, but several SNP politicians posted images from the event.
Livingston MP Hannah Bardell shared pictures of campaigners from the pro-Yes rally, including one wearing a “Not My King” sign. "Siri, show me what Scotland thinks of the coronation,” she wrote.
Edinburgh East SNP MP Tommy Sheppard was among those due to speak at a republican demonstration in the Scottish capital.
In an article in the National on Saturday, he wrote: “The coronation looks more like an unwanted party, forced upon an unwilling populace than a spontaneous celebration by loyal subjects.”
Green MSPs Patrick Harvie, Lorna Slater and Maggie Chapman were also scheduled to speak at the Our Republic rally at Calton Hill. Ms Slater, a Government minister, said: “The pomp and regalia on display today in London consists not just of literal stolen artefacts, but represents the stolen lives, cultures and communities that the British royal family took from countries around the globe on their imperial quest.”
Meanwhile several Scottish politicians criticised the arrests of anti-monarchy campaigners in London.
Former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, said: “This is concerning. Whatever your view on the monarchy, the right to peaceful protest is essential to our country.
"I'm certain that the King himself would not want these sorts of actions taken. The government needs to rethink here.”
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