On the eve of the coronation of King Charles III, we’ve been thinking about the significance of the occasion. Here we are–experiencing the transition from the second Elizabethan era to the third Carolean* era. I say it like this to help myself understand these are momentous times marking milestones in history!
Meeting Charles III, then the Prince of Wales
Alongside looking forward with new hope, we have also been looking backwards. Our thoughts have naturally flown back to 2010, when Mukesh Kumar, Art at the Heart Director, met the then, Prince of Wales. The occasion was a royal visit to Millennium Point, Birmingham, and the Prince was promoting thought around sustainability and the environment. Millennium Point Trustees and Dame Christine Braddock DBE DL approached Mukesh, then Director of Creative and Performing Arts, to produce a sustainability themed event fit for the future king.
Recycling Themed Event Co-produced with Young People
The event involved taking over Millennium Point’s atrium space to showcase a whole body of creative artworks co-produced with young people in an inner city location. Artworks included spoken word, poetry, graphic design, fashion and textiles and a full-blown fashion show. The high aspiration culture was infectious and the results predominantly exploring recycling were produced to professional standards. The Prince’s visit served to both inspire young people, and acknowledge the value of the artworks.
Impact of a Royal Visit
The impact on students, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, was immense–boosting confidence and giving rise to a greater sense of self-worth. Photos of the students who met the king-to-be were presented to young people’s previous schools to inspire upcoming artists. Mukesh delivered one of these photos himself to a school in Hall Green. The event was part of a whole programme of industry standard creative arts and culture that received national recognition from the TES for outstanding innovation in teaching and learning. Just take a look at the exciting artworks produced!
Reflection and Change
The last eight months or so have been a time of reflection and change. Despite the vast difference in HRH Charles III’s privileged existence and our own lives, there are four things that we have in common:
- A driving desire to make the world a better place,
- Ensuring all young people have access to the best opportunities
- Embracing the diversity of our nation.
- Caring for our planet and ensuring we live sustainably
He was one of the pioneers of organic gardening and farming back in 1985 and was often ridiculed for his beliefs. Despite this, he persevered. Now almost forty years later, the world is recognising the benefits of organic farming, although cost remains an issue.
A young Prince Charles said that he had to influence without power. And that influence correlated directly with the amount of respect in which one is held (The Observer, 1974). We support young artists to develop holistically, and develop their own convictions. Our work helps them to grow into their power through creative and cultural education. We facilitate the exploration of ideas and creative problem solving to give young people the skills to influence their world and build a sustainable more equitable future. A key element of our work is developing understanding of real respect for others. Learning about world culture is a key element of this work. I was really interested, then to find this statement made by King Charles in a 1974 interview with The Observer:
“The more people understand about the background of the immigrants who come to this country, the less apprehensive they would be about them. To get on neighbourly terms with people of other races and countries, you’ve got to get more familiar with them. Know how they live, eat, work, what makes them laugh. And their history.”
Hopes for the future
This statement fills me with hope. With acute awareness of the impact of colonialism and the slave trade, I hope to see more action on bringing people together to learn from each other at cultural events. I hope to see more action on developing schools’ curricula to include histories of the whole community. I hope to see more real respect for other’s lives and heritage even if they are different to our own. This is not a matter of politics but of basic human rights. I look forward with optimism.
When Prince Charles shook my hand, said Mukesh “I was minded of my father’s hands, a foundry worker and union advocate for his peers, a working man. These are a farmer’s hands, I thought.”
So let’s join in the cultural celebrations – we’ve found a recipe for coronation quiche, coronation chicken could still be on the cards, join our neighbours at local coronation street parties, Coronation Big Lunches, and enjoy the extra Coronation Bank Holiday if you are able. And then let’s get on with the real work.
*originating from Carolus, the latin word for Charles
Linked resources: Coronation Crown Tutorial
Abstract from the 1974 interview with The Observer, available at https://www.theguardian.com/news/2013/jun/09/prince-charles-monarch-retire-archive-interview. (Accessed 5 May 2023)
Hollis, P. (2022) Carolean era: This is what and why it will be known as under King Charles III as his reign begins. Available at https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/read-this/carolean-era-this-is-what-it-will-be-known-as-under-king-charles-iii-as-his-reign-begins-3838399. (Accessed 5 May 2023)