In 1997, after attending the Royal Gala, Geri Halliwell kissed Prince Charles on the cheek. According to royal protocol and etiquette, you’re only allowed to shake hands with the monarch, so the scandalous moment landed on the front pages of newspapers and entered the history of pop culture. Now, instead of Ginger Spice daring to kiss Charles a second time, The Spice Girls are avoiding him altogether.
The band are among a number of British pop artists who turned down the chance to play at his coronation concert in May. It was also reported that Adele, Harry Styles, Robbie Williams and Elton John were asked to play and turned down the offer. when Rolling Stone Asked why, all of these artists’ bands declined to comment, Elton John’s Bar, which confirmed it was asked but couldn’t play due to scheduling issues. Musicians used to be lined up practically outside the palace to perform at any major royal event, but that’s changed. The audience was left wondering: would any major star agree to play the coronation of King Charles III?
“The ’90s was a very different period in British pop culture. It was New Labour, and everyone was fun and a little sleazy,” explains Michael Cragg, author of reach for the stars, A book about British pop music in the 1990s and 2000s. But, says Cragg, “that hoax is no longer there at all. Now we really want to know who they are and what version of the royal family we learned about recently through Prince Harry’s book and how the Prince Andrew scandal was handled: the reality is terrible. You can’t be the biggest squad in the world.” The world now and you walk in and plant a kiss on it and it still works.”
Performing at a royal event in 2023 means aligning yourself with outrageous scandal. Recent allegations regarding Prince Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and an alleged sexual relationship with one of Epstein’s victims are still fresh in people’s minds. So was Andrew’s disastrous 2019 interview with BBC Newsnight about the allegations. But before people had a chance to reconcile their feelings for Andrew, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, publicly announced that they were stepping down from their royal duties. In the years that followed, Harry and Markle made several accusations against the royal family and the British press, claiming that their treatment of Markle led to concerns for her mental and physical health. The rhetoric and growing rift between the couple and the institution is well documented in Harry’s 2023 memoirs. additional and the couple’s Netflix series Harry and Megan.
Simon Jones, PR for Little Mix, Niall Horan says: “The royal family has faced a number of PR disasters lately and anyone involved with the show will have to consider whether there will be a backlash from appearing among their fans.” And Louis Tomlinson.
In the same vein, it would be a pretty straightforward decision to turn down an offer to perform from multiple artists. Kingsley Hall of political band Benefits, whose 2022 anti-royalty single “Flag” was No. 1 on official UK vinyl the week of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, explains of the British cultural temperature, “We’ve had a lot of exposure and negative exposure from the royals – Jubilees, weddings, feuds, accusations of racism, notable deaths, accusing someone of being a sexual predator—in what I would classify as a short period of time. People are tired of it and probably won’t participate for that reason.”
For many millennials and Gen Z fans in the UK in particular, ownership is a dirty idea. Meg, head of the leading British music PR firm, points out that both Styles and Adele are at points in their careers where they need to define themselves after a decade of success in music. “For them now, storytelling is really important,” says Meg, whose real/full name is withheld at her request. These great symbolic links carry a lot of weight and are literally inscribed in the history books in bold and underlined letters. I can understand why there is a huge PR debate about which artists do it or not. ”
While the Queen was once viewed by the public as an ancient grandmother of the nation, Charles is less the country’s grandfather than an empty slogan for the royal family. “ I don’t know what artists can gain from being associated with it,” says Meg. “With the Queen, she was wonderful and magical to some people. Charles adds nothing – there is no legacy of his that anyone would want to come to terms with. It’s televised, so a lot of people will listen to your songs, for sure, but in terms of a long-term PR strategy, I don’t know if the performance would add positively to the artist’s narrative unless it was staunchly pro-monarchy.”
A Buckingham Palace spokesman did not immediately respond Rolling StoneComment request. Rolling Stone She also contacted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which is organizing the coronation ceremony.
Crucially, this culmination takes place in a year when the UK’s cost-of-living crisis has seriously reached its peak. “Back in the gold and red gown, and you find a country where parents choose between feeding their children or keeping them warm,” says Ellie (whose real/full name has been withheld upon request), founder of a British pop-pop PR firm. How Much Money Does Coronation Cost Motivation Taxes? It sounds like a political statement to play.”
Each rejecting artist will naturally have their own political motivations based on their British affiliation. As Grace Martha of London, Adele’s great admirer, notes, Adele is a proud working-class hero from Tottenham, one of the most ethnically diverse regions of Britain. “The pomp and the money that this coronation costs do not represent her values at all,” says Martha. “This issue is specific to our culture; Americans might think, ‘Oh, she’s from London and Connie, why doesn’t she? He no longer resides in the royal family.”
The colonization of the British Empire has been a major point of discussion over the past two years. Huck Baker, a London musician, says this is why we struggle to secure first-rate British acts: “In any situation where I would submit to a racist colonial imperial system that refuses to apologize for its past and wipe out a popular history I would best avoid a barge-pole.” We are more aware of the past now. They are not exempt from recognition. I think they will have a hard time.”
Han Mi of Manchester-based band Hot Milk emphatically agrees, describing it as an “anachronistic institution” that does not represent modern Britain. “Leave it in the past, it’s old, stale, and expensive like the whiskey that backed it but without the power and glamor,” she says. “She loved Liz, but you should have died with her—a coronation is a kick in the teeth when this country has been nothing more than a show of filth.”
The real question is: Why do the royals need this entertainment value at all? “Nobody talks about the appointment or the guests,” Meg considers. “The headlines around the coronation right now are who the musicians are and the musicians coming out, underscoring the importance of the music and what the symbolism of the endorsement is from one of these great artists.” It seems that in 2023, the royal family needs musicians more than musicians need them.
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