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Coronation brings back memories for Murray Bridge’s Chris Melville
She watched Elizabeth II’s crowning as a schoolgirl in England, and counts herself lucky to have lived long enough to see Charles III follow up.
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It has been a while between coronations for Murray Bridge’s Chris Melville.
Last time, on a summer’s day in June of 1953, she and her school friends were bundled into a hall in the village of Horbury, in Yorkshire, England.
“There was a TV at the school I went to, the infant school, and all the kids in town were taken up to the local hall to watch this funny round thing with streaky things going across the screen,” she recalled.
“We had decorations in the house – if you remember the old pop-up books, you could make coaches and things and hang them in your windows – and everybody had flags flying.”
This time around, a Union Jack was hung from a mantelpiece at the Melvilles’ home at Murray Bridge East.
After all, an unmistakable Yorkshire accent isn’t the only thing Ms Melville has kept after 62 years in Australia.
She still holds dear a connection to the land of her birth, despite never having been back there.
She and her husband Ken – whose mother was “a true Cockney”, born within the sound of Big Ben – huddled around the television on Saturday evening, fireplace burning in the next room and rain pelting down outside.
“It’s incredible that stuff like this goes back so far, and it’s the 21st century and it’s still happening,” Ms Melville said.
“The Queen’s coronation (in 1953) was the first one to be televised; this one is being streamed.
“I think it’s incredible I’m still alive to see it.”
She didn’t envy the new King Charles III, she said.
“The way the world is these days, it’s all partying and happy-happy today … but everything they do today is scrutinised and picked on by experts,” she said.
“I was watching something recently and they had a body language expert analysing Princess Charlotte – I mean, for goodness’ sake.”
Asked what she thought of the Australian republican movement, she bit her tongue, but her scowl told the story.
“No,” she finally said.
“I think the Commonwealth is fairly special, and Australia is a big part of it.”
Making a change would be expensive, she feared, and she wasn’t convinced that an alternative model of government would be any better.
In the meantime, she was content to watch the pageantry at Westminster Abbey.
“I think the British do this pomp and show pretty damn good,” she said.