‘AND yes, we can just see the bucket of servitude there – a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria, of course – being held aloft by the Senior Serjeant of the Thong – a tradition said to date back to the early 19th century after Pitt the Younger vomited at the coronation of George IV.”

Fact, or fiction? Given the generally ­surreal atmosphere of royal life in ­Britain, it becomes surprisingly hard to distinguish between real histories and the ­colourful twaddle establishment officials have ­chosen to remember. This is life in our ­Gormenghast.

It starts by saying the opposite of the truth with a straight face. “King Charles III is known for his frugality” is a ­sentence ­written – apparently in complete ­seriousness – in a recent British ­newspaper article, describing how the coronation ­falderals planned for next weekend are ­estimated to cost at least £100 million.

“Frugality” was also the explanation ­given for how the heir to the throne ­ended up with a personal fortune estimated at £1.8 billion, and why we should all feel grateful for the opportunity to treat this ­multi-millionaire to the big day oot he’s been waiting 70 years for.

The next page cooed about the fact a £150,000 gold-plated harp would be ­twangling throughout proceedings. ­Another report invites you to gaze in ­wonder at the refurbished state coach – now with its own air conditioning and shock ­absorbers to spare the royal ­fundament any discomfort or overheating as it is dragged through central London by eight knackered horses and a cast of grateful functionaries dressed like upmarket fox hunters.

We’re told this ugly vehicle is “the ­oldest working coach in the country” – as if ­Britain is replete with “working coaches” vying for the title of “most worn axle of 2023”.

If the Duke of Norfolk produced a ­tortoise in Westminster Abbey – and Huw Edwards intoned on the BBC that the ­creature was gifted to Her Majesty the Queen by Golda Meir in 1973 and was last publicly displayed during the Silver ­Jubilee of 1977 – you’d be confronted with a ­constitutional fairytale only marginally less ludicrous than the ­solemn processions and series of baubles and outfits the state broadcaster will present come coronation weekend.

British royalism is a surrealist art form, combining the high camp with complete humourlessness. It blends together the animal, the mineral and the vegetable (and that’s just the senior members of the House of Windsor). Listen out for that formulation. There’s always a lot of “of courses” in the mainstream coverage of Britain’s crass royal spectacles.

The invocation of a fictional common sense – the idea we all have common knowledge of the snob’s charter which constitutes Britain’s invented traditions – is designed to make you forget the ­absurdity of the mise-en-scène. This kind of spectacle tends to provoke your generic BBC announcer to make comments like “showing Britain at its best”, “nobody does it better”, and statutory illusions to “pomp and circumstance” – though what’s so circumstantial about ­pensioners walking unsteadily through the streets of London under the weight of several dead ferrets has always escaped me.

The key to reporting any royal event in the UK is to learn to speak unspeakable gibberish with a straight face. The ­broadcasting pros are able to pretend they find the interminable parades, the ­ridiculous costuming, the weird ­military aesthetic and the boring Christian ­sermon strangely moving. I’m also moved ­strangely by these scenes. To boaking.

We’re told this is the “dignified” part of the British constitution. But I can’t think of anything less dignified than the parade of crawlers, creepers, client politicians, discarded mistresses, social ­climbers dressed as bishops, plausibly deniable friends, British establishment lifers, toadies, snobs, privately educated yobs and first-to-fifteenth-generation robber ­barons which still constitute the flower of ­ British nobility.

Through events like this, we enact ­everything wrong with modern Britain – completely unironically. But the House of Windsor is hardy for a reason. You only need to open up any of Britain’s mainstream media publications over the last few days to see the new king’s media ­operation already have the propaganda machine working like a Swiss watch.

Every day in the lead-up to the ­coronation of Charles III, a new gewgaw has been revealed for the public to gawp and coo at. This weekend, the palace ­released a college photo of the jug-eared Charles Windsor, looking impossibly young and reminding you how long he’s been dangling around before realising his life’s ambition in his eighth decade. This was reported as news. It isn’t.

BBC Scotland has been doing its loyal best too, peddling the story of the ­“farmer prince” who loves ­nothing more than feeling the gust of a cold north-easterly wind around his essentials having been introduced to the charms of the kilt by his late mother. Polling ­evidence of Scottish public indifference to his multi-million-pound razzmatazz was passed over diplomatically briefly. The ­official hypocrisies must be maintained.

Last week, the Lord Lyon King of Arms – with powerful Toad of Toad Hall energy – extolled the unifying majesties of escorting the Stone of Scone down to London. You can understand why he’s excited. The Revered Dr Morrow will have his own crown to wear at the coronation, absurdly. A remarkable number of middle-aged men in Britain seem drawn to the Disney princess aesthetic, seizing the opportunity to live their best life with the royal guarantee they don’t look like prize wallies playing medieval dress-up.

Because those in glass houses can’t throw stones. To crown a king, it turns out a lot of equipment is involved. You might think all you’d really need was the magic hat and a convenient stool for the sovereign to sit on – but it transpires ­several fistfuls of rings, staffs, staves, sticks, wands, gowns, orbs, swords and spoons are needed for the magic spell to work in modern Britain.

Poor Floella Benjamin has been deputed to carry an object, the sceptre with the dove, which she’ll then hand to a Welsh archbishop, who’ll have the final duty of lobbing the stick at Charles.

A guy called Admiral Peach gets to ­manhandle the sword of mercy before stabbing a rock with it or laying it at Camilla’s feet. Penny Mordaunt has also received her own ritual weapon, which she’ll get to troop around the church.

Pointing and laughing at this ­ridiculous spectacle is actively discouraged. The humbug and the generally religious ­atmosphere may help here. There’s ­already a skelf or two from the True Cross involved – courtesy of the Vatican – a ­punnet of chrism for dipping the new monarch in, and a snazzy screen so we won’t be able to stare at Charles and Camilla communing with the Almighty after the Archbishop of Canterbury has given the royal couple a quick dizzle – wrist, tit and topknot is ­apparently traditional – with a splash or two of Bertolli’s best extra virgin olive oil to seal the deal. A 12th-century spoon is also somehow involved in this delicate ­undertaking.

You might have noticed that the “slimmed down” monarchy which Charles promised hasn’t materialised. The civil list is still buttoned up just as tight as ever over the round belly of this ­talentless ­family and their innumerable hangers-on. The coronation is a ­monument to this empty vanity.

Back when I was a postgrad, I was ­introduced to the work of the American sociologist Robert Bellah. Bellah was an expert on what he called “civil ­religion” in the United States – the stars and the stripes, pledging allegiance, the US ­president a kind of priest-king for the ­national cult.

Bellah’s work was anticipated in part by a 1953 essay by the American sociologist Edward Shils and Michael Young. They argued the last coronation could be understood as “the ceremonial occasion for the affirmation of the moral values by which the society lives. It was an act of national communion and an intensive contact with the sacred.”

Can the same be said in 2023? I feel a kind of passionate loathing for all this. But most people in Scotland? They seem to be shrugging. I wonder which reaction loyal royal watchers find more disturbing. Here’s hoping it rains.