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Scenes from a coronation (Design: Archi Banal)
Scenes from a coronation (Design: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureMay 5, 2023

Fluglehorns, fascinators and fake Kates: A week of coronation news coverage

Scenes from a coronation (Design: Archi Banal)
Scenes from a coronation (Design: Archi Banal)

On Monday: nothing. Wednesday: a cat wore a fascinator. But by Friday, it was all on for young and old. Tara Ward watches as New Zealand’s TV news shows come down with a case of coronation fever.

King Charles’ coronation is only one sleep away, and nobody is more excited about it than the people making the nation’s news and current affairs shows. This week, we watched to discover just how committed they were to the coronation cause. Were our tellies running hot with coronation fever, or were we too busy putting fascinators on our cats to care? Let’s climb into our gold coach of investigation and find out. 


The Project NZ kicked off coronation week by asking viewers to send in their best DIY coronation moment, with the chance to win some tea and a prized colonial treasure known as a “UE Boom”. Comedian Alice Brine Zoomed in to say nothing was happening in London, but Jesse Mulligan and Kate Rodger were still excited about this weekend’s events. “For all those people screwing up their nose and sneering, I think it’s going to be a ratings hit,” Mulligan said. Rodger’s interests lay elsewhere:


The Project NZ was swamped with entries for their DIY coronation competition, including this incredible gown “made out of old painting rags”, which we should expect to see on the Met Gala red carpet in 2024:


Breakfast took its coronation coverage up a gear, with TVNZ’s European reporter Mei Heron covering everything from a Buckingham Palace made of Lego to regal suits on Savile Row. After showing us a knitted Queen (Consort) Camilla bollard-cover, Heron took a trip on the London Eye to enjoy a “really exciting” premium VIP experience. The VIP coronation capsule was decorated to look like Westminster Abbey, but sadly looked nothing like it, mostly because that big church is not a plastic bubble slowly rotating 135 metres above the river Thames. 

Next, Heron visited The Mall for a “vibe check” and met royal superfan Julia, who prepared for the coronation by camping in her spare room for two weeks. Julia showed us the inside of her tent (verdict: looked pretty tenty) and said hello to her cousin in New Zealand, while back in the Breakfast studio, Anna Burns Francis tried to stifle her laughter. “Two weeks camping in her spare room!” she cackled. Later, Burns Francis interviewed the royal florist. He did not have a tent to show us, but did reveal that the King’s favourite flower is the delphinium.  

As for The Project NZ’s coronation viewer competition, we were treated to this fine feline in a fascinator. Stand down, we have a winner. 


Big royal pastry update from prime minister Chris Hipkins, who was given a disposable tray of sausage rolls from King Charles. “I want to ask where our sausage rolls are,” Newshub’s Mike McRoberts told reporter Lisette Reymer, but Reymer only wanted to talk about coronation security arrangements. Boring! Get to the meat of the matter!


Breakfast may have covered their desk in Union Jack bunting, but AM was focusing on real news, like Auckland’s mass train cancellations (“it’s all up the wazoo,” Ryan Bridge declared) and how to eat a Flake without making crumbs. Then AM’s American entertainment reporter Nelson Aspen dropped a royal bombshell when he revealed his showbiz career began after he went to London to train Princess Diana in step aerobics. 

Learning someone flew halfway across the world to teach a princess step aerobics is a moment that deserves a breaking news banner and a live studio special led by Patrick Gower, but Aspen quickly moved on to Kevin Costner’s divorce. Then Bridge crossed to Lisette Reymer at Buckingham Palace, who chucked on a Union Jack paper crown and blew two noisy party blowers to get the party started. “I went all out and blew the budget,” she chortled.

While Breakfast spoke to the driver of a double decker tour bus in London, AM’s William Waiirua crossed live from an Auckland retirement village. “Paddington Bear, he’ll get ya,” he began sinisterly, before chatting with royalist Gaylene, owner of a historic coronation stool. Gaylene was a bit shifty about where she got the stool – “It was just given to me,” she said, a little too quickly – but it was one of 5,700 seats used in the last coronation. She repaired the stool in the village men’s shed. “That must be worth a bit of moolah,” Waiirua said admiringly. 

Coronation fever had officially hit, and things were quickly spiralling out of control. Breakfast’s Jordyn Rudd spoke with English royalist Mandy, who was fizzing about spending the next two nights sleeping in a plastic bag on a deck chair outside Buckingham Palace. “We just wanted to be here,” Mandy said, before yelling “Hi family!” down the camera to New Zealand. A passerby accused Rudd of being Kate Middleton in disguise. Rudd neither confirmed nor denied the allegation, merely sending the man off with a royal wave. 

But at nine o’clock, AM gave us the most chaotic coronation moment of all. After a hectic interview with comedians Ed Gamble and Josh Thomson, AM finished their week with Laura Tupou playing the first verse of ‘God Save the King’ on the flugelhorn. Flugelhow? Nobody knows, but Bridge jingle-jangled his tambourine all the same. It made no sense, and yet, it made perfect sense. God save us all.

Keep going!