On the “how interested are you in the royal family?” spectrum, which runs from antipathy to adoration, I’m in the mildly curious range: I know who the major players are; I watched the Harry and Meghan documentary but not “The Crown.” I cannot help but feel some affinity with a person (Queen Elizabeth II) who allegedly invented an indisputably adorable dog breed (the dorgi, a cross between a dachshund and a Welsh corgi).
But as with a sports playoff game or Hollywood awards ceremony, the coronation of Charles III has made me into an instant, if temporary, royals superfan. I can’t resist a spectacle — never mind one code-named Operation Golden Orb — resplendent with props like the Stone of Destiny, holy olive oil, a gold coach and a scepter containing the largest colorless cut diamond in the world. But as with all fandom, fair-weather and otherwise, allegiance is complicated.
In a recent poll of 3,070 adults in Britain, 64 percent of respondents said they had little to no interest in today’s coronation. The ceremony has been modified to be more inclusive, but still “the hoary rituals of the coronation are a reminder of how — in a secular, multiethnic, digital-age society — the crown is fundamentally an anachronism,” wrote The Times’s London bureau chief, Mark Landler.
An over-the-top coronation for a new king does make for an incongruous viewing experience while Commonwealth nations call for Britain to redress its colonialist legacy and the country reckons with a cost-of-living crisis. The dissonance is for the best, I think. It’s possible to be fascinated by the pageantry while remaining skeptical of it, to gawk at the fairy-tale elements of the coronation while still questioning the system that supports them.
I talked to Sarah Lyall, a writer-at-large for The Times who is covering the coronation, about how hard it is for an American who isn’t a regular royal watcher to truly understand how the monarchy functions in the U.K. One of its roles, she said, is to exist outside of politics and provide continuity when the government is in disarray. As Britain went through four prime ministers in the past three years, the monarchy endured. “It’s a soap opera,” she said, “but it’s also like a sort of scaffolding in some odd way for the entire system.”
Speaking of scaffolding, in order to accommodate the more than 8,000 guests that attended Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, special grandstands were built in Westminster Abbey. This required so much scaffolding that a railway track was built in the church to transport it all. Charles’s coronation, by contrast, will be a more intimate affair, with about 2,200 people invited.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
🎬 “Air” (Friday): In her review of this Ben Affleck-directed film about Nike’s attempt in the 1980s to sign Michael Jordan to the most mega of sneaker contracts, Manohla Dargis wrote, “It’s ridiculous how entertaining ‘Air’ is given that it’s about shoes.’” The film, also starring Matt Damon and Viola Davis, will be available to stream on Prime Video.
🎮 “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” (Friday): It’s been six years since “Breath of the Wild” was released for the Nintendo Switch. That beautiful open world game entered my household during the early days of the pandemic and not a week has gone by in which we don’t talk about it. The highly anticipated sequel is out next weekend, and I don’t plan on doing anything but playing it.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Salmon With Asparagus and Lemon
Asparagus season is approaching its peak, meaning now is the time to revel in dishes that highlight its grassy-in-a-good-way flavor. Kay Chun’s roasted salmon with asparagus, and lemon does just that, and it couldn’t be easier to prepare. While the salmon roasts, you make the simple pan sauce of lemony brown butter with crisp-juicy peas and thinly sliced asparagus. Capers add a salty tang and parsley (or tarragon, if you prefer), some herbal freshness. Serve this dish, vivid in shades of pink and green, on your prettiest platter for a festive, springtime meal that you can make in 15 minutes flat.
The hunt: They wanted a house in the Hudson Valley for $500,000. Which one did they choose? Play our game.
K9 Jets: Flying with a dog or cat is getting harder. So people are chartering planes for their pets.
Ovulation pain: Researchers aren’t sure why it can hurt.
King Cobra and Enrique Chagoya: What to see in New York galleries this month.
Northern Lights: You can see them further south for the next few years.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
Cut weeding time in half
With pleasant spring weather comes an unpleasant garden nemesis: weeds. As a relatively new gardener, I have been exploring ways to naturally tackle weeds, and I’ve found the quickest and most efficient to be this $28 garden tool, a stirrup hoe. Think of it like a vegetable peeler for your garden beds. Its trapezoidal steel blade-head slightly oscillates back and forth — a simple push or pull slices the top layer of soil, severing a weed from its roots. It’s as easy as it is satisfying to use. And it’s cut my weeding time in half, giving me more hours to enjoy the spring. — Sebastian Compagnucci
Miami Grand Prix: Formula 1 has been expanding its footprint in the U.S. since the Netflix series “Drive to Survive” brought a new audience to the sport. This year, three races are in the U.S. — the most in decades — as well as a new American driver, Logan Sargeant. Unfortunately for Sargent, he does not drive for Red Bull, which means he probably won’t win. Red Bull’s two drivers have won every race this year. But even a Top 10 finish, which would earn Sargent his first points of the season, would be reason to celebrate. 3:30 p.m. Eastern tomorrow on ABC.
Related: Nearly every weekend, Formula 1 workers pack up their entire sport and send it to the another country. Here’s how the logistical symphony comes together.