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Charles III Crowned at Westminster Abbey in Ancient Rite

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King Charles III was officially crowned on Saturday in a time-honored ceremony held at Westminster Abbey, where he received the majestic St. Edward’s Crown.

This significant event took place amidst efforts by the monarchy to maintain relevance in a modern and divided Britain. With over 2,000 guests, including world leaders, aristocrats, and celebrities, the atmosphere inside the medieval abbey was filled with fanfare, as trumpets resounded and the congregation enthusiastically exclaimed, “God save the king!” Meanwhile, outside the abbey, thousands of troops, numerous spectators, and a handful of protesters gathered, creating a vibrant backdrop. For Charles, this momentous occasion marked the culmination of a journey spanning seven decades from heir to monarch.

Both the royal family and the government regarded the coronation, code-named Operation Golden Orb, as an extraordinary display of heritage, tradition, and spectacle that is unparalleled globally. The ceremony was expected to be watched by millions, yet the awe and reverence it once evoked have diminished over time, leading some to greet the day with indifference. In fact, a group of Republican protesters gathered outside, shouting “Not my king,” expressing their disdain for an institution they perceive as representing privilege and inequality in a nation grappling with deepening poverty and social fragmentation. A few individuals were even arrested.

Despite this backdrop, thousands of people from across the United Kingdom and around the world eagerly awaited the king’s arrival at Westminster Abbey. They had camped overnight along the 1.3-mile route that Charles and his wife, Camilla, traversed in a grand horse-drawn carriage adorned with gilt trim. The church itself buzzed with excitement, adorned with fragrant flowers and vibrant hats, as international dignitaries and nobles joined the congregation. Notable figures in attendance included U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, eight current and former British prime ministers, and renowned celebrities like Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, and Lionel Richie.

The traditional Anglican service, slightly modified to reflect modern times, commenced with Charles, attired in crimson and cream robes, solemnly swearing on a Bible as a “true Protestant.” However, a preface was added to the coronation oath, affirming the Church of England’s commitment to fostering an environment where people of all faiths and beliefs can live freely. Notably, the epistle from the King James Bible was read by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Britain’s first Hindu leader. A gospel choir delivered a newly composed “Alleluia,” and for the first time in history, female clergy participated in the ceremony. Additionally, representatives from Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh faiths were included.

In a captivating display of royal authority rooted in antiquity, Charles received anointing with oil from the Mount of Olives in the Holy Land, along with the presentation of an orb, swords, and scepters. Finally, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby placed the solid gold crown, adorned with over 400 precious stones, atop the monarch’s head, accompanied by resounding trumpets and nationwide gun salutes.

For over a millennium, British monarchs have been crowned in grandiose ceremonies, symbolizing their legitimate right to rule. Charles becomes the 40th sovereign to be crowned in Westminster Abbey, and at the age of 74, he is the oldest monarch to ascend the throne. In contemporary times, the king no longer holds executive or political power, rendering the ceremony purely ceremonial. Charles automatically became king following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in September. Nevertheless, the king retains his role as the United Kingdom’s head of state, representing national identity. In an era when support for the monarchy is waning, particularly among younger generations.

Nonetheless, Charles has endeavored to lead a more streamlined and cost-effective monarchy for the 21st century. His coronation was comparatively shorter than Elizabeth’s three-hour ceremony, featuring fewer guests and a condensed procession. Nevertheless, attendees were treated to a visual spectacle that included judges donning wigs, soldiers adorned with gleaming medals on their red tunics, members of the House of Lords, international royalty, heads of state, public servants, key workers, and local heroes.

In a noteworthy display of unity, the famously feuding royal family presented a show of solidarity. Prince William, the heir to the throne, attended alongside his wife, Kate, and their three children. Prince Harry, William’s younger brother who has publicly clashed with the family, arrived unaccompanied, while his wife Meghan and their children remained in California.

Towards the conclusion of the ceremony, Prince William knelt before his father, King Charles III, pledging loyalty and affection by kissing him on the cheek. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby then invited everyone present in the abbey to pledge “true allegiance” to the monarch. While this moment was also extended to the television audience, it was toned down after facing criticism for being perceived as a somewhat insensitive request for a public oath of allegiance to Charles.

The contemporary audience differs significantly from those who witnessed Elizabeth’s coronation. Today, nearly 20% of the population comprises ethnic minority groups, a significant increase compared to less than 1% in the 1950s. The presence of over 300 languages spoken in British schools and less than half the population identifying as Christian further exemplifies the diverse composition of the country. Nonetheless, people from around the world and across Britain flocked to the occasion, driven by a desire to be part of this historic event.

Jill Coughlin, a devoted royal supporter from Essex, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “It’s a joyous experience to be surrounded by love and witness the ascension of our King Charles. He represents stability and continuity for us, building upon the legacy of our beloved queen. It’s a truly wonderful moment for all of us.”

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Modi Likely to Visit Bangladesh in First Bilateral Trip Post-Re-Election

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Bangladesh later this month, marking his first bilateral trip following his re-election.

Initially, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was slated to visit India at the end of June or early July. However, following her attendance at Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi over the weekend, plans have shifted. According to the Economic Times, Modi is now preparing for a visit to Dhaka in response to an invitation extended by Hasina.

This prospective visit aligns with India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, aimed at reinforcing its leadership role in South Asia.

During their meeting in New Delhi on June 9, Hasina formally invited Modi to visit Bangladesh. Although exact dates for the visit are yet to be finalized, the agenda will likely focus on enhancing cross-border connectivity, energy cooperation, and business ties between the two nations.

Sources indicate that India is keen on strengthening its security and defense partnership with Bangladesh, reflecting the strategic importance of this bilateral relationship.

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Moody’s Predicts Further Decline for Bangladesh’s Taka Amid Currency Policy Shift

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Bangladesh’s taka is expected to plunge further into record-low territory as the central bank loosens its control over the currency, according to Moody’s Ratings.

Young Kim, an analyst at the rating firm in Singapore, projects that the taka will likely weaken by another 2% to around 120 per dollar by the year’s end. This forecast comes as the currency has been hitting a series of record lows in recent days.

The central bank’s recent introduction of a crawling peg system is anticipated to align the taka’s value more closely with its rate in the unofficial market, Kim explained. This adjustment is part of a broader package of policies recommended by the International Monetary Fund, which provided Bangladesh with a $4.7 billion bailout program last year. This policy shift aims to help the nation prevent further depletion of its foreign exchange reserves—a factor Fitch Ratings cited when it downgraded Bangladesh’s credit score further into junk status in May.

“Most of the pressure for Bangladesh is external, centered around the fixed-exchange rate that caused a distortion between the market and the official rate,” Kim noted. “This significant devaluation of the taka helps reduce some of these imbalances by narrowing that gap.”

In May, the central bank implemented the crawling peg exchange rate system and set the mid-rate at 117 taka per dollar. This move prompted an almost 8% decline in the currency this quarter. On Tuesday, the taka weakened further by 0.3%, reaching 117.7 against the dollar and closing at a new low.

Amidst the currency devaluation, Bangladesh is also cutting spending and raising taxes to narrow the budget deficit and boost revenues, as the country faces a steady erosion of foreign reserves. To curb inflationary pressure, the central bank has transitioned to market-based interest rates, responding to the fastest pace of price increases seen in seven months in May.

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Bangladesh, ADB Ink $250M Loan Deal for Social Resilience Program

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Bangladesh have signed a $250 million loan agreement to bolster Bangladesh’s social protection system.

Md. Shahriar Kader Siddiky, Secretary of the Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Edimon Ginting, ADB’s Country Director, signed the agreement today at a ceremony held at the ERD in the capital.

“The Second Strengthening Social Resilience Program aims to accelerate reforms by increasing the coverage and efficiency of protection, improving financial inclusion for disadvantaged people, and strengthening the response to diversified protection needs,” stated Country Director Edimon Ginting.

Building on the first Strengthening Social Resilience Program completed in June 2022, this second initiative seeks to improve the policy, regulatory, and institutional framework for social protection in Bangladesh. This program aligns with the government’s Action Plan Phase II of the National Social Security Strategy (2021-2026), aiming to enhance the social protection system’s protective and preventive capabilities.

According to a press release, the program will improve efficiency in social protection program management, increase protection for the most vulnerable populations, and expand the scope of social protection by introducing contributory schemes. These measures aim to reduce vulnerability, social exclusion, and the risk of further poverty.

The program will introduce a beneficiary verification scheme for cash-based social protection programs to minimize leakages. It will also merge two cash-based protection programs for people with disabilities to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

To address climate vulnerability, the program will integrate climate adaptive measures into social protection, including identifying individuals most at risk from climate change-induced disasters to ensure appropriate assistance.

ADB’s support will enhance protection for vulnerable women and transgender people by increasing the number of beneficiaries under the widow allowance program and extending the livelihood support program for transgender individuals.

Additionally, Bangladesh Bank will double its funding for the Small Enterprise Refinancing Scheme for Women Entrepreneurs to improve access to financial services for women small business operators.

Another key objective of the program is to strengthen the governance mechanism of the employment injury scheme pilot, particularly in the ready-made garments sector. It also supports establishing a tripartite committee comprising workers’ associations, employers’ associations, and the government to advance social protection for workers under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, a crucial step in developing the country’s social insurance schemes.

To support the implementation, technical and policy analyses, and capacity building of relevant government agencies, ADB will provide a $1 million grant from its Technical Assistance Special Fund (TASF 7) and another $1 million grant from the ADB-administered Community Resilience Partnership Program Trust Fund under the Community Resilience Financing Partnership Facility.

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