I watched a summary of yesterday’s coronation ceremony in London on the local public television station here in New York from my hospital bed and was struck by this thought: no way in the world could all those thousands of British soldiers, sailors and assorted military types, their commanders and the massed ranks of the British establishment have paraded through the streets of London in the way they did if the IRA campaign was still under way.
One well placed bomb could have devastated the event and made the first day of Charles’ reign memorable for all the wrong reasons. In all probability the coronation would, at the very least, have been drastically scaled down, possibly confined to Westminster Abbey and indoors at Buckingham palace; Charles’ ascent to the throne would have entered the history books for sure, but for all the wrong reasons.
So, will the British establishment show its gratitude to the Shinners? Possibly. But the problem with bread is that once it is swallowed and digested, it is quickly forgotten. And few people have shorter memories or greedier appetites for bread, than the people who dominated our TV sets yesterday.