Crowds gather in London for moment in history as King Charles is crowned
Crowds from across Britain and the world gathered on Saturday in London where Charles III will be crowned king in Britain’s biggest ceremonial event for seven decades, a sumptuous display of pageantry dating back 1,000 years.
Charles succeeded his mother Queen Elizabeth when she died last September and at 74, he will become the oldest British monarch to have the 360-year-old St Edward’s Crown placed on his head as he sits upon a 14th century throne at London’s Westminster Abbey.
Watched by about 100 heads of state and dignitaries, including U.S. first lady Jill Biden, and millions on television, Charles follows his predecessors from the time of William the Conqueror in 1066 in being crowned at the abbey.
His second wife Camilla, 75, will be crowned queen during the two-hour ceremony which, while rooted in history, will attempt to present a forward-looking monarchy.
With Britain struggling to find its way in the political maelstrom after its exit from the European Union and maintain its standing in a new world order, the royal family still provides an international draw, a vital diplomatic tool and a means of staying on the world stage.
“No other country could put on such a dazzling display – the processions, the pageantry, the ceremonies, and street parties,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
“It’s a proud expression of our history, culture, and traditions. A vivid demonstration of the modern character of our country. And a cherished ritual through which a new era is born.”
Despite Sunak’s enthusiasm, the coronation is taking place amid a cost of living crisis and public scepticism, particularly among the young, about the role and relevance of the monarchy.
Saturday’s event will be on a smaller scale than that staged for Queen Elizabeth in 1953, but will still aim to be spectacular, featuring an array of historical regalia from golden orbs and bejewelled swords to a sceptre holding the world’s largest colourless cut diamond.
By early morning tens of thousands had begun massing along The Mall, the grand boulevard leading up to Buckingham Palace, with the crowd more than 20 people deep in some places, as troops in ceremonial uniforms and marching bands went past.
Rachel Paisley, a 45-year-old housewife, said she had travelled from her home in Switzerland with her husband and two children.
“It is a moment in history. We wanted to be here to see it and create some memories,” she said next to her son, who was wearing a Charles face mask, and her daughter, who sported a Union flag head band.
After the service, Charles and Camilla will depart in the four-tonne Gold State Coach that was built for George III, the last king of Britain’s American colonies, riding back to Buckingham Palace in a one-mile procession of 4,000 military personnel from 39 nations.
It will be the largest show of its kind in Britain since the coronation of Charles’ mother.
At the start of ceremonies, Charles and Camilla will travel from Buckingham Palace to the abbey in the modern Diamond State Jubilee Coach, with the service due to begin at 1000 GMT.
They will pass cheering crowds but also what anti-monarchists say will be the biggest protest mounted by republicans. More than 11,000 police will be on duty ready to stamp out any attempted disruption.
Once at the abbey, much of the ceremony will feature elements that Charles’ forebears right back to King Edgar in 973 would recognise, officials said. Handel’s coronation anthem “Zadok The Priest” will be sung as it has at every coronation since 1727.
But there will be new elements, including an anthem composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, famed for his West End and Broadway theatre shows, and a gospel choir.
A Christian service, there will also be an “unprecedented” greeting from faith leaders and Charles’s grandson Prince George and the grandchildren of Camilla will act as pages.
However, there will be no formal role for either Charles’ younger son Prince Harry, after his high-profile falling out with his family, or his brother Prince Andrew, who was forced to quit royal duties because of his friendship with late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender.
Charles will swear oaths to govern justly and uphold the Church of England – of which he is the titular head – before the most sacred part of the ceremony when he is anointed on his hands, head and breast by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with holy oil consecrated in Jerusalem.
After Charles is presented with symbolic regalia, Welby will place the St Edward’s Crown on his head and the congregation will cry “God save the King”.
His eldest son and heir Prince William, 40, will then pay homage, kneeling before his father, placing his hands between those of the king and pledging his loyalty as “your liege man of life and limb”.
Welby will call for all those in the abbey and across the nation to swear allegiance to Charles – a new element that replaces the homage traditionally sworn by senior dukes and peers of the realm.
However, that has caused controversy with anti-monarchist group Republic calling it offensive, forcing Welby to clarify it is an invitation not a command.
After returning to Buckingham Palace, the royals will make a traditional appearance on the balcony, with a fly-past by military aircraft.
Also in traditional British fashion, the weather in London could feature heavy bursts of rain, forecasters said, which could mean a slimmed down or even cancelled fly-past.
Celebrations will continue on Sunday with nationwide street parties and a concert at the king’s Windsor Castle home, while volunteering projects will take place on Monday.
“When you see everyone dressed up and taking part it is just fantastic. It makes you so proud,” said teacher Andy Mitchell, 63, who left his house in the early hours to get into London.
“My big concern is that younger people are losing interest in all of this and it won’t be the same in the future.”
Philippines, US, Japan to hold first-ever joint coast guard exercise
The coast guard of the United States, Japan and the Philippines will hold a trilateral maritime exercise in the South China Sea this week, the first such maneuvers between them as a time of growing concern about China’s moves in the region.
The June 1 to 7 exercise in waters off Bataan province was an initiative of the United States and Japan, while Australia would join as an observer, said Philippine coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo on Monday.
Four Philippine vessels and one each from the United States and Japan will participate in exercises designed to improve search and rescue collaboration and law enforcement, Balilo said.
The Philippines was approached by Japan and the United States about holding joint maritime exercises in February, the same month when Manila accused China of aggressive activities in the South China Sea, vast stretches of which Beijing claims as its territory, Reuters reported.
“This is a usual routine activity among coast guard agencies,” Balilo told a press conference.
“There is nothing wrong with holding exercises with your counterparts.”
Japan, Australia and the United States have frequently condemned China’s militarisation in the South China Sea and have sought to engage closer with U.S. ally the Philippines since Ferdinand Marcos Jr took over as president last year from pro-China predecessor Rodrigo Duterte.
Philippine ties with the United States have gained ground under Marcos, who has been increasingly vocal about China’s conduct, including over its alleged use of a “military-grade laser” against a vessel supporting a navy food re-supply mission.
It has also complained about large numbers of suspected militia lingering near Philippine-held features in the disputed Spratly islands. China maintains the actions of its coast guard are legal and in its waters.
Balilo said the upcoming maritime exercise will include counter-piracy simulations, and possibly an interception exercise involving a vessel carrying weapons of mass destruction.
Turkey’s Erdogan prevails in election test of his 20-year rule
President Tayyip Erdogan extended his two decades in power in elections on Sunday, winning a mandate to pursue increasingly authoritarian policies which have polarised Turkey and strengthened its position as a regional military power, Reuters reported.
His challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, called it “the most unfair election in years” but did not dispute the outcome.
Official results showed Kilicdaroglu won 47.9% of the votes to Erdogan’s 52.1%, pointing to a deeply divided nation.
The election had been seen as one of the most consequential yet for Turkey, with the opposition believing it had a strong chance of unseating Erdogan and reversing his policies after his popularity was hit by a cost-of-living crisis, read the report.
Instead, victory reinforced his image of invincibility, after he had already redrawn domestic, economic, security and foreign policy in the NATO member country of 85 million people.
The prospect of five more years of his rule was a major blow to opponents who accused him of undermining democracy as he amassed ever more power – a charge he denies.
In a victory speech in Ankara, Erdogan pledged to leave all disputes behind and unite behind national values and dreams but then switched gears, lashing out at the opposition and accusing Kilicdaroglu of siding with terrorists without providing evidence, Reuters reported.
He said releasing former pro-Kurdish party leader Selahattin Demirtas, whom he branded a “terrorist,” would not be possible under his governance.
Erdogan said inflation was Turkey’s most urgent issue.
Kilicdaroglu’s defeat will likely be mourned by Turkey’s NATO allies which have been alarmed by Erdogan’s ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who congratulated his “dear friend” on his victory, read the report.
U.S. President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter: “I look forward to continuing to work together as NATO Allies on bilateral issues and shared global challenges.”
U.S. relations with Turkey have been impeded by Erdogan’s objection to Sweden joining NATO as well as Ankara’s close relationship with Moscow and differences over Syria.
Addressing jubilant supporters earlier from atop a bus in Istanbul, Erdogan, 69, said “the only winner today is Turkey”. “I thank every single one of our people who once again gave us the responsibility to govern the country five more years,” he said.
Erdogan’s victory extends his tenure as the longest-serving leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established modern Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire a century ago – a politically potent anniversary to be marked in October with Erdogan in charge.
Erdogan, head of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, appealed to voters with nationalist and conservative rhetoric during a divisive campaign that deflected attention from deep economic troubles.
In his victory speech, he attacked the opposition again, calling them pro-LGBT.
Kilicdaroglu, who had promised to set the country on a more democratic and collaborative path, said the vote showed people’s will to change an authoritarian government. “All the means of the state were laid at the feet of one man,” he said.
Erdogan supporters, who gathered outside his Istanbul residence, chanted Allahu Akbar, or God is Greatest.
“I expect everything to become better,” said Nisa, 28, a headscarved woman wearing a headband with Erdogan’s name.
Another Erdogan supporter said Turkey would get stronger with him in office for five more years.
“There are issues, problems in every country around the world, in European countries as well … With strong leadership we will overcome Turkey’s problems as well,” said the supporter who gave his name as Mert, 39, as he celebrated with his son.
Bugra Oztug, 24, who voted for Kilicdaroglu, blamed the opposition for failing to change. “I feel sad and disappointed but I am not hopeless. I still think there are people who can see the realities and truth,” Oztug said.
Erdogan’s performance has wrong-footed opponents who thought voters would punish him over the state’s initially slow response to devastating earthquakes in February, in which more than 50,000 people died, Reuters reported.
But in the first round of voting on May 14, which included parliamentary elections, his AK Party emerged top in 10 of the 11 provinces hit by the earthquakes, helping it to secure a parliamentary majority along with its allies.
French President Emmanuel Macron offered congratulations, saying France and Turkey had “huge challenges to face together”.
The presidents of Iran, Israel, and the Saudi king were among leaders to congratulate him in the Middle East, where Erdogan has asserted Turkish influence, at times with military power. Erdogan, who was for years at odds with numerous governments in the region, has taken a more conciliatory stance in recent years.
Emre Erdogan, a political science professor at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, attributed Erdogan’s success to his supporters’ belief “in his ability to solve problems, even though he created many of them”.
Erdogan had also maintained the support of conservative voters who long felt marginalised. “This era will be characterized by a decline in political and civil liberties, polarization, and cultural fights between two political tribes,” he said.
Erdogan appeared to have prevailed despite years of economic turmoil which critics blamed on unorthodox economic policies which the opposition had pledged to reverse.
Uncertainty about what an Erdogan win would mean for economic policy pushed the lira to record lows last week, Reuters reported.
Reuters reported last week that there was disagreement within Erdogan’s government over whether to stick with what some called an unsustainable economic programme or to abandon it.
Kilicdaroglu had promised to reset governance, restore human rights, and return independence to the courts and central bank after they were sidelined over the last decade.
Four dead, suspect arrested in rare shooting in Japan
Japanese authorities said on Friday they arrested a 31-year-old man in a rural area for suspected murder after four people were killed in a rare shooting and stabbing incident involving a 12-hour stand-off with police.
The suspect had holed up in his house after shooting two police officers who arrived at the scene in response to a report that a woman had been stabbed, the head of the Nagano prefectural police told a televised press conference as reported by Reuers. He used what appeared to be a hunting rifle in the shooting, he said.
The suspect is the son of the head of the Nakano city council, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The two police officers and the woman were taken to hospital and pronounced dead within hours, the police chief, Iwao Koyama, said.
“This is a heinous crime that has aroused great fear in the residents of the prefecture and society at large,” he said.
Another elderly woman also died after an apparent knife attack, police said. She had been lying on the ground outside the house since Thursday afternoon and police had been unable to get to her, media reported.
Police detained the man around 4:30 a.m. (1930 GMT) on Friday, about 12 hours after the first call to emergency responders, media said. He was arrested for the suspected murder of one of the police officers, Koyama said.
Shootings are extremely rare in Japan, where gun ownership is tightly regulated and anyone seeking to own a gun must go through a rigorous vetting process. The suspect had a licence for a hunting rifle, the head of the National Public Safety Commission told a separate briefing.
The suspect’s mother and aunt who were in the house with him escaped on their own, Koyama said.
Few other details were known, including the suspect’s motive.
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