Mohammed A. El Huni: The lessons of King Charles III’s coronation


From the residence of the British ambassador in Tunisia, I watched the coronation ceremony of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey in London, as part of the largest official ceremony the country has witnessed in 70 years, and a majestic event that has its roots in a thousand years of history.

The ceremony was symbolic of the UK’s grandeur and the civil resilience of a country which has taken in a diversity of races, creeds and cultures without any distinction between them, treating them all as equal citizens.

I arrived in London with my family in 1977. The kingdom was then celebrating the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, who sat on the throne from February 6, 1952 to September 8, 2022, the date of her passing.

In London, my father, the late Hajj Ahmad Al-Saleheen Al-Huni, God bless his soul, established the international newspaper Al-Arab, which was to become the first Arabic newspaper in the diaspora.

He chose for us to reside in a country that respected our identity and culture and gave us the opportunity to enrich our heritage and broaden our perspective on humanity.

We found in London a meeting ground for Arabs, be they scientific and cultural innovators, students, workers, artists, writers, journalists or politicians seeking refuge.

It was easy to be part of the community of Al Arab newspaper with Arab writers from almost all nationalities.

The experience was the starting point for us to earn our British citizenship, and have the honour of being citizens of a powerful nation that is capable of protecting its nationals anywhere in the world. We received a nationality which opened the doors of the world to us, including Arab capitals.

My father admired the monarchy. He was himself a cabinet member during the rule of the constitutional monarchy in Libya under the righteous King Idris.

We were brought up with the due respect for monarchical regimes that in their turn respected their people, upheld the law and preserved the characteristics of their societies and the traits of their national identity.

His outlook on life instilled us with the spirit of loyalty and respect for governments that played their legitimate role as guardians of younger generations.

This is what we see today in the honourable Kingdom of Morocco, the Kingdom of Jordan.

It was no coincidence that monarchical systems were better able to navigate the turbulence of the “Arab spring” in 2011. Their stock of credibility with their respective populations granted them needed margin of manoeuvre that allowed them to adjust course and introduce reform where needed.

Experience has always proved the importance of the ruler being a shepherd of his citizens when immersed in the culture of a benevolent king who assumes the responsibility of preserving the integrity of the governance process.

Some may have a different view than mine, which I fully appreciate.

But I nonetheless see that monarchies as the best guarantors of tradition, continuity and social cohesion.

I found this conviction to be reinforced by experience whether in our region or the rest of the world. Wherever there are kingdoms, there are generally stable states, and peoples who are reassured about their present and future and who are clearly reconciled with their past.

Monarchies are not a spent force. There is still room for kings and queens who are responsive to the needs of their citizens in any modern political system. The well-being of the population is the only litmus for the resilience of such systems. Enlightened monarchies, I believe, have the odds in their favour.

The author is the owner and editor in chief of Alarab newspaper


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