THE BBC’s blanket previewing of King Charles III’s Coronation has made it difficult to escape the medieval folderols and toy soldiery surrounding it.

Thus, it came as some relief to view footage of Celtic supporters indulging in free expression of their disdain for the big Royal event.

At half-time during last Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final, thousands of them had fashioned a somewhat rudimentary chant about yesterday’s regal hoopla by suggesting that, in a manner of speaking, it might be used as a self-applied suppository.

“You can stick your coronation up you’re a***,” they sang in the traditional football adaptation of an older melody. 

Curiously, I harbour a suspicion that the new King might quietly have approved of the Celtic supporters’ loud outbreak of lese-majeste. The BBC has been at pains all week to tell us that the Coronation solemnities were to be modified to reflect multi-cultural Britain.

Indeed, I feel that the candid and unfussy way in which the Celtic supporters espoused their anti-monarchical sentiments was refreshing and a fine example of the UK’s admirable tolerance of dissent.

These supporters had waited respectfully until the 15-minute interval before launching into their vivid republican chorus. Having expressed their sentiments tunefully and in good order, it was soon back to the football. There was no threat, no belligerence, and no little humour.

The footage of the supporters’ melodic protest was picked up by news agencies around the world which doubtless carried it as an antidote to the Royal pageantry they were being fed by Buckingham Palace’s slick PR operation.

I like to think that the Celtic chaps’ gnarly expression of defiance reflected well on a modern Britain defined by diversity and comfortable in its own skin. Three cheers for the King! And three cheers, too, for those rascally Celtic supporters. Hip hip …

Famine fury

IT helps to understand why the Celtic aficionados were so eager to convey their disgust at the Coronation. The majority of these men and women are direct descendants of those who fell victim to Ireland’s an Gorta Mor (The Great Famine), an apocalyptic event which claimed the lives of one million people.

The famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1852, forced another one million to flee their native land as Ireland’s population fell by between 20-25%.

The callousness of the British state connived to make it worse. Even as it became clear that Ireland’s suffering was unprecedented in its scale, Britain and the Crown did little to alleviate the situation, refusing even to consider halting food exports from Ireland when millions of its people were starving. This brutal reaction was underpinned by punitive crown legislation which sought to suppress all expressions of Irish and Catholic identity.

The Catholic Irish were viewed as a sub-human species by the British state, an attitude reinforced by the Act of Settlement which forbade (as it continues to do) Catholics from acceding to the throne.

At the height of the Great Famine, many Irish people were barred even from accessing the meagre comforts of the workhouse while thousands more were evicted by absentee English landlords. The Celtic supporters’ contempt for the Coronation is rooted in our families’ suffering. King Charles shouldn’t take it too personally.

Spiers casts a spell

Celtic's al-fresco choristers featured as the main item on a podcast hosted by Graham Spiers, a pre-eminent Scottish football journalist.

Mr Spiers is a valued chum of this column and has never hidden his lifelong attachment to Rangers FC, nor his faithfulness to the Baptist tradition.

Virtually alone among the football writing fraternity, he has never shied away from addressing the thorny issues that have engulfed the sport.

It was in this vein that he led a discussion of those many complex social, historic and cultural convulsions that formed the backdrop to the Celtic supporters’ robust wassailing.

Perversely though, he was chastised by some Celtic-minded fellows for daring to air his views.

I’d recommend that they listen to his podcast before seeking to de-platform him.

Royal recital

Though I favour an independent Scottish republic, like many others of my tradition I bear no personal ill will to the King and hope that he carries out what he sees as his duties with the diligence and humility of his late mother, the Queen.

And so, as he starts his new role, I invoke the same Gaelic blessing upon him which featured at the recent funeral of the great Scottish boxer, Ken Buchanan.

Deep peace of the running wave to you

Deep peace of the flowing air to you

Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you

Deep peace of the shining stars to you

Deep peace of the gentle night to you

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

Deep peace of Christ

Of Christ the light of the world to you

Deep peace of Christ to you ...