A party fit for a King
Mike Fletcher reflects on a Royal weekend of celebratory events and community volunteering.
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, I wrote a piece on the cultural legacy left by Her Majesty on the events world. In the article, I stated that for me, culture is very much about a sense of place. Stories bring places to life and places and events attach special meaning to stories.
My place over the Coronation weekend was manning a stand at a quintessential Cotswolds village fete. My role was to host a children’s game, which 300 years ago (around the time my house in said village was built) would have seen me locked up in the Tower of London for treason against our new King.
The game involved a pair of sticky ears and a portrait of King Charles III, sitting on his coronation throne complete with Crown, Royal Orb and Sceptre. One by one, children would stand behind a line and throw the sticky ears at the picture.
My job was to award points depending on where the ears landed (20 for a body shot, 50 for the face, 60 for the crown and 200 points should anyone make the ears stick to where you’d expect to find ears on a human body).
From my vantage point - peeling sticky ears off a poster and handing them to the next excitable child, I watched much of the Coronation on the big screen in the village hall.
From the splendour of the Diamond Jubilee State Coach pulled by six Windsor Grey horses with unconventional royal blue manes to the more traditional Red Arrows flypast and cheering crowds that lined the Mall, this was another triumph to add to the royal collection of historic UK events.
But it didn’t end there. In typical events industry style, the festivities grew bigger and better as the bank holiday weekend unfolded, with Britain proving once again that when it comes to royal events, we certainly know how to throw a party.
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Production agency Star Live built Britain’s largest stage for the King’s Coronation Concert, which took place in the gardens of Windsor Castle the day after the Coronation.
The patriotic platform, measuring 95 metres wide, created a giant Union Jack covered by a crown-shaped roof. Boasting an enormous surface area of 960sqm, it dwarfed the stages used for previous cultural occasions such as Live Aid and the Jubilee celebrations.
During the concert, headlined by Take That, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, cultural locations around the UK were lit up with projections, lasers, drone displays and illuminations.
The frontage of Windsor Castle and the stage’s crown roof were used for spectacular projection mapping, while the night sky above featured illuminated drones morphing into natural world shapes including a blue whale, a butterfly, a rabbit’s face and others.
On the bank holiday Monday, to mark the Coronation, The Big Help Out initiative encouraged UK citizens to lend a hand to their local communities.
The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh turned up at a guide dog centre in Reading to help train puppies, while Prince Louis stole the show in Slough when he and his parents (the Prince and Princess of Wales) spent time volunteering at a scout centre.
My village fete community volunteering may not have quite captured the cultural zeitgeist of the first British coronation in 70 years. But in the wider context of all the hundreds of spirit-lifting, morale-boosting events and celebrations that took place over the long weekend, I like to think that it told us something about what sort of monarch King Charles III will turn out to be.
Just like his mother, he’s fun with a good sense of humour and again, just like his mother he understands the cultural importance and economic value of ‘putting on a show’ and those companies that make it happen.
As for the winner of my ‘King Splat’ children’s game? Well, top of the leaderboard at the end of the day was a girl called Meghan - no not that one, although I’m sure the royal irony of her name wasn’t lost on anyone who cheered as I handed over her Harribo-shaped prize.
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