During a Wednesday trip to the City of London, King Charles III delivered a speech that touched on an array of serious issues, from climate change to global unrest and other problems facing the UK. Despite the somber mood of his address, he did find an opportunity to poke fun at the issues he faced with fountain pens soon after his September 2022 accession to the throne.
While speaking about the various sources of strength that the nation can draw on, he mentioned the “healing” power of humor. “The British sense of humor is world-renowned. It is not what we do. It is who we are,” he said. “Our ability to laugh at ourselves is one of our great national characteristics. Just as well, you may say, given some of the vicissitudes I have faced with frustratingly failing fountain pens this past year!”
Just two days after the death of the queen, Charles was filmed as he frantically gestured at a fountain pen as he tried to sign the Accession Protocol, which made his role as the head of the Commonwealth official. The footage made it to the Internet and became one of the first viral moments of his reign. At a signing ceremony in Northern Ireland a few days later, he complained about a leaky pen as he passed it along to his wife. “Oh, God, I hate this,” and the footage once again went viral.
Within weeks, even Charles was in on the joke, laughing as he contended with a fountain pen during his first official engagement after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. “These things are so temperamental,” he said as he passed the pen to his wife.
On Wednesday, Charles delivered his speech during a dinner at the Manor House, the official residence of the City of London’s Lord Mayor. On the visit to the square-mile area which is technically not governed by the monarch, he took part in a longstanding tradition called the Temple Bar ceremony, where the Lord Mayor presents the monarch with the Pearl Sword. At the beginning of the address, he also joked that unlike his ancestors, the Plantagenets, he would not be collecting a “grant of tonnage and poundage” as taxation on the visit.
He went on to say that the last year has made him think about the qualities that make the UK unique. “I have often described the United Kingdom as a ‘community of communities’; an island nation in which our shared values are the force which holds us together, reminding us that there is far, far more that unites us than divides us,” he said. He later described those shared values as “deep wells on which we can draw” to “raise hope, shared purpose and, above all, a genuine togetherness that will see us through good times and bad.”
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