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Why a Major British Broadcaster Will Air ‘Alternative’ Coronation Coverage

4 minute read

As British news channels begin to reveal their royal programming for King Charles III’s May 6 Coronation, Channel 4 is taking an entirely different approach—and pulling no punches.

The broadcaster has announced a series of programs that will place the monarchy under a microscope and question its future as much of the British public ponders the same. In a statement Monday, Channel 4 said it will “provide an escape from the pomp and ceremony elsewhere.”

Among its “less reverential” programs will be a show called Farewell to Monarchy, fronted by comedian Frankie Boyle, which will examine if the royal family has a place in today’s world.

It will also air Andrew – The Problem Prince, a two-part program on the Prince’s infamous Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Additional comedy content will include The Windsors Coronation Special, a satirical sitcom billed as “more deluded and more dysfunctional than ever before!”, and an equally biting re-run of Prince Andrew: The Musical.

Meanwhile, the anti-monarchy Republic pressure group wrote an open letter on Monday accusing the BBC of having made “no attempt to be impartial or balanced” in its royal programming.

“The result of the BBC’s failures is that the coverage serves the interests of a shrinking minority who could reasonably be called royalists. In doing so, they do a disservice to the whole nation,” the open letter read. The BBC, however, told HuffPost UK its reporting is “fair and duly impartial.”

Read More: Here’s Everyone Who Will—and Won’t—Go to King Charles III’s Coronation

Regardless, Channel 4’s “alternative” coronation coverage is likely to resonate with millions of Brits who don’t seem excited about the upcoming event. A YouGov poll from earlier this month found that 69% of those surveyed either don’t care very much or not at all about the coronation, while only 9% said they care a great deal and 24% cared a fair amount.

Another poll carried out by YouGov in May 2021 showed a growing number of Brits shunning the monarchy, with a plurality of 18-24 year olds preferring an elected head of state rather than a monarch.

“Polling shows that people that are not interested in the [coronation] and the people that are opposed to the monarchy may be in the minority, but that minority is going up,” Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, tells TIME.

The organization’s website notes that hereditary public office means there is no way to hold the family to account “at the ballot box” or prevent misuse of public funds. In early April, a bombshell investigation by The Guardian called “Cost of the crown” found that the royals use a number of legal and financial loopholes to avoid public scrutiny.

“What we want is for abolition and a parliamentary republic similar to many European republics like Ireland, Germany, and Finland,” Smith says. Republic has organized a coronation protest with 1,200 people expected to greet the King’s procession at Trafalgar Square as the royals make their way to and from Westminster Abbey.

“It’ll be the first time that a major royal event has been confronted directly with a protest so [we hope] it will raise a lot of questions and get people thinking about it critically,” Smith says.

Judging by Channel 4’s royals coverage plan, it’s a protest they seem poised to cover.

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Write to Armani Syed at armani.syed@time.com