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Britsburgh toasts King Charles III’s coronation

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Jonathan Spatz recalled watching 10 people sitting around with their eyes glued to a 10-inch black-and-white television in his parents’ home in England.

The group was gathered for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953 when she was 25.

Spatz, of Indiana Township, was 7 years old.

“I remember I was running in and out of the house, because I was playing cowboys and Indians with my cousin in the front yard,” said Spatz, on Saturday.

This time, Spatz was focused on the high-definition, large-screen color television for the coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey in London. “I paid more attention this time. I am honored to watch a second coronation. This is history.”

Spatz, who was born in Hadley Wood, England, joined 41 friends and members of Britsburgh to view the event — happening for the first time in 70 years.

They woke before dawn to tune in and attend a coronation watch party at Ruckus Coffee Gallery Café in Shaler. He and his wife of 54 years, Beth Spatz, were married in Hadley Wood. At the time of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, Beth Spatz was living in Virginia where she is originally from. She was 8 years old.

“We weren’t able to watch it live,” said Beth , who later lived in Britain for five years. “I remember seeing something about it broadcast later in the day. I remember the queen walking down the aisle wearing a crown and a long robe.”

Jonathan Spatz said one of the parts he really liked about the crowning of King Charles III’s was the invitation of an array of faith leaders and representatives, including everyday people, which was the wish of the king.

“That is fantastic,” he said.

He said having that many faith leaders and commoners was not the case when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. The king’s ceremony was shorter than his mother’s, which was more than three hours long, he said.

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JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review

Jonathan Spatz of Indiana Township watches the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on Saturday, May 6 at Ruckus Coffee Gallery Cafe in Shaler. He also watched when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953.

 

The Spatzes said the coronation is about more than the ornate religious ceremony. It is to show that the king will “serve the people,” Beth Spatz said. Charles is also dedicated to caring for the earth, which is essential to the Spatz couple — they own a farm and are committed to organic farming.

“It is important to have this ceremony,” Beth said. “We all have British connections.”

Having been in the same hallway as King Charles III when he was Prince Charles made watching the coronation that more special, said Nigel P. McQuin of North Versailles. He was studying at Imperial College in South Kensington in West London in March 1975 when his professor Eric Laithewaite, who appeared on BBC television, was contacted by then-Prince Charles.

Charles came to the school.

“Prince Charles walked right by me,” McQuin said. “He was within 15 inches of me, so to watch this coronation is amazing.”

As she filled a pot with Yorkshire Gold tea, one of the finest British teas, Christine Rauktis, owner of Ruckus Coffee Gallery Café, said she connected with Britsburgh after she held a British Day last year. She opened her café two years ago and the event space last year.

“They came to me with their idea and I was all for it,” said Rauktis, whose event space has been used for birthday parties and showers and other events. “This is a special time in history. I am honored to host Britsburgh.”

The menu included a continental breakfast of pastries, croissants, fruit, digestives — which are wafer cookies, and, of course tea.

“This is really good tea,” said Alice Passarell, a Britsburgh board member from West Mifflin and one of watch party organizers. “You need good tea for such an historic event. It goes with all the pomp and circumstance that is not just for show. There is meaning behind it.”

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JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review

Colleagues Sara Sapienza (left) of Mt. Washington and Dawn Walters (right) of Jefferson Borough pose for a photo with cardboard cutouts of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on Saturday, May 6 at Ruckus Coffee Gallery Cafe in Shaler.

 

That meaning is what brought colleagues Sara Sapienza of Mt. Washington and Dawn Walters of Jefferson Borough.

They purchased fascinators — decorative headpieces consisting of feathers, flowers, beads, etc., attached to a comb or hair clip, for the occasion. Walters is an Anglo-Saxon who said she plans to join Britsburgh. She purchased a Queen Elizabeth II Swatch watch for her jubilee that has an impression of the late queen, a corgi and the queen is carrying a purse.

“The royal family is our family,” Walters said. “It’s not just pageantry.”

“I love seeing it all,” Sapienza said. “I love the carriage they rode in and to know that we are witnessing history.”

The watch party was organized by Passarell, Beth Spatz, Theresa Casciato of Aliquippa and Steve Shandor of Shadyside. They synched two televisions and a video screen so everyone could see and hear the festivities. The event space was decorated with flags and miniature glass crowns.

Britsburgh is not just for British people, said co-founder of Britsburgh, Roger Cranville who attended with wife, Clair, of Kilbuck. He said they welcome everyone.

“As I watched I thought, ‘this ceremony included ordinary people,” he said. “It was a little less regal, which I thought was great. It is fascinating to see the king sitting in that (700-year old coronation) chair. It is steeped in history.”

Westminster Abbey has been the setting for every coronation since 1066. Charles is the 40th to be crowned there. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby crowed King Charles III and then his wife, Queen Camilla. The crowd shouted “God Save the King!” and trumpets sounded.

More than 2,200 guests from around the world attended in person.

Those gathered watched the king and queen leave Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach, an enclosed eight-horse-drawn carriage used by the royal family on grand state occasions, such as coronations, royal weddings, and the jubilees of a monarch. It has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since George IV.

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JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review

Robert Charlesworth, a co-founder of Britsburgh, which hosts programs and events about British history, tradition and culture, popped a few bottles of bubbly and poured the drink into glasses as those gathered gave a champagne toast to King Charles III at the end of the coronation watch party on Saturday, May 6 at Ruckus Coffee Gallery Cafe in Shaler.

 

Robert Charlesworth, a co-founder of Britsburgh, which hosts programs and events about British history, tradition and culture, popped a few bottles of bubbly and poured the drink into glasses as those gathered gave a champagne toast to King Charles III at the end of the coronation.

“I know it is early, but it was well worth seeing this majesty,” he said. “No one puts it on like the Brits.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne by email at jharrop@triblive.com or via Twitter .



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