King Charles III marches behind the coffin of his late mother King Charles III marches behind the coffin of his late mother. Source: KSAG Photography - Flickr / croped form original / shared under license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Some cultural antidotes to the coronation, as Lindsey German takes her cue from Shakespeare’s Richard II, quoted above

That Night in Varennes 

The king is fleeing to the border in 1791 as the French Revolution accelerates when he is captured by citizens in the town of Varennes. This 1982 film, directed by Ettore Scola, is a masterpiece, with a range of historical characters brought to life and a strong republican sentiment. 

The History of the Russian Revolution 

Leon Trotsky’s wonderful writing on how the Russian workers overthrew Tsarism in 1917 is especially relevant in his descriptions of the backwardness of Russian society and the particularly inane characteristics of the last in the Romanov line, Nicholas II. 

The Kings Depart 

The end of the First World War saw the fall of the old European empires, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, as well as the Turkish Ottoman empire. Richard M. Watt’s description of this process shows the decay and rottenness of the old order as well as the failures of the revolutions, especially in Germany. 

The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates

Arguably the greatest English poet, John Milton, was also effectively foreign secretary for the Commonwealth which followed the execution of Charles I. In 1649, he wrote this pamphlet justifying the republic and the regicide, saying ‘neither doe bad men hate Tyrants, but have been alwayes readiest with the falsifi’d names of Loyalty, and Obedience, to colour over thir base compliances.’

The Last Emperor 

Bernardo Bertolucci’s film made in 1987 about the last Emperor of China, Pu-Yi, is a flawed but beautiful portrayal of the sheer emptiness and lack of reality of a royal dynasty that has little connection with a changing world and is overthrown by the revolution.

A Place of Greater Safety 

Hilary Mantel’s novel of the French Revolution is one of her best and brings to life the characters of Robespierre, Danton, and Desmoulins, showing how much they fought for the revolution, and how events tore them apart. 

Easter 1916 

The poem by WB Yeats celebrates Dublin’s Easter Rising, whose participants rejected both ‘King and Kaiser’. Its famous line ‘a terrible beauty is born’ depicts the beginning of a revolutionary conflict with the British empire and the birth of the Irish republic. Watch the actor Liam Neeson read it here.

Cromwell vs the Crown: God’s Revolution

You can listen to the audiobook of this excellent radio drama written by Don Taylor which covers 1647-49 as the English revolution came to its peak and where a growing left of the movement led to the trial and execution of the king.

The American Revolution 

Worth remembering that this revolution predated that of France and that its ideas were very much influenced by the earlier English revolution, given the many cultural and family links. Edward Countryman’s book is a good introduction to why and how it happened, and why the former colonies rejected monarchy.  

Land and Freedom

Spain’s revolution and civil war have inspired a great deal of writing and art. It was in defence of a young republic following the overthrow of the monarchy. This is Ken Loach’s visual contribution, a 1995 film that is inspiring and instructive over the debates about how far to take the revolution. Its eventual defeat ushered in Franco’s bloody dictatorship and the (much later) restoration of a king. Also well worth reading is Ronald Fraser’s oral history Blood of Spain.

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.