The Coronation of King Charles III is nearly upon us! Here’s your bumper guide to the coronation weekend.
Sound the trumpets – it’s coronation time.
This monumental moment in British history is plenty of reason for a good party and London knows it. Not only will we have envy-of-the-nation front row seats to all the pomp and pageantry, but there’ll be street parties, events and an extra bank holiday.
There’s heaps going on, so we put together a guide of all the important information in one easy place – it’s bumper, so be prepared.
First of all, here are the special days in short:
- Saturday 6th May: The Coronation Ceremony and procession takes place.
- Sunday 7th May: The Coronation Concert happens
- Monday 8th May: Bank Holiday
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the big weekend…
The Coronation of Charles III: The Big Stuff
The King’s Procession
Begins at Buckingham Palace
The coronation itself – as in the literal crowning moment – is actually a ceremony held at Westminster Abbey. The day itself kicks off with a procession that carries the king-to-be from Buckingham Palace to the abbey.
This is known as the King’s Procession and it’s not just for the king – Queen Consort Camilla will be along for the ride as she will also be getting a crown. In full British style, it is not without its fair share of pomp and circumstance.
The duo will be breaking out the Diamond Jubilee State Coach for the trip. That’s the gilded coach that was designed for Queen Elizabeth’s 60th year on the throne.
This coach’s crown was carved from wood taken from HMS Victory, and the coach’s interior was made of samples taken from other royal sites around the country. That’s an upholstery and trim of metal and wood lifted from Buckingham and Kensington Palaces, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle to name a few.
The carriage has only ever been used to transport a sovereign, and occasionally a visiting head of state.
They’ll be taking this beauty on a spin of Westminster on route to the abbey. This is basically the part where the streets are lined with people and dripping in Union Jacks.
The route runs from Buck Pal along The Mall and through Admiralty Arch where the king gets out to inspect one of the seven soho noses (just kidding), whereafter the coach passes King Charles Island statue in Trafalgar Square and heads down Whitehall.
At this point (and we’re really not kidding about this bit) they will pass the spot where King Charles I was beheaded during the Civil War. Nothing will be made of this but it is an interesting point to muse on.
After making their way down Whitehall they’ll arrive at Westminster Abbey where the crowning will take place. You can download a map of the route here.
The Coronation Ceremony
6th May, 11am
This is the big bit. Charles walks in a prince and leaves a king. It’s actually quite a sober affair, but for a ceremony that dates back over a thousand years what’dya expect?
The ceremony is led by The Archbishop of Canterbury who will say a few words on the role of the monarch in the present day and look to the future and what the new monarch’s reign may hold, as well as harking back to all these millenia-old traditions and ramping up the pageantry.
Prime ministers, heads of church and foreign states as well as family (except Megan) will be in attendance as the new King takes the coronation oath, the words of which vary from monarch to monarch but usually revolve around the same promises to uphold law and order.
All this will be broadcast on tv and radio, in case you’re wondering. Read on for more info on that.
Then comes an anointing, blessing and consecration from the Archbishop who will then pass the king the orb and sceptre of royalty and place the crown upon his head. A smaller, simpler ceremony is done for Camilla, Queen Consort, who’s official title will then be Queen, and it’s job done – back to Buck Pal for a wave on the balcony and a glass of champagne.
The Coronation Procession
Begins at Westminster Abbey
But not before another royal procession. This one, The Coronation Procession, is much like the first but longer and done in a different carriage – this time pulled by 8 Windsor Grey horses rather than the six that takes them on the initial leg. Don’t ask why, it’s tradition.
The Coronation Procession takes a full lap of central London running up Pall Mall to Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch and Oxford Circus on the way back to Buckingham Palace.
The carriage this time round is even grander than the first. It’s the Gold State Coach, one commissioned in 1760 that saw its first use taking King George III to the State Opening of Parliament in 1762 and has been used in every coronation since William IV’s in 1831.
When the new king and queen are back at Buckingham Palace they will receive a salute from the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Armed Forces in the palace gardens. They’ll then be up on the balcony in good royal tradition.
Other Things to See and Do
The forces will actually make up lots of the procession and surrounding festivities. It’s kinda a tradition to get them all out in full old-school raiment for big occasions. Expect to see a lot of dragoon-style soldiers on horseback.
Iconic and important places across the UK will light up in the evening with the image of a crown. In London you can see this at The Tower of London.
There’ll also be a fly by of military aircraft that will colour the sky with plumes of blue, white and red smoke in the colours of the nation’s flag, and a special concert for the occasion.
The Coronation Concert
A pretty large part of the coronation weekend is also the Coronation Concert. It’s also probably the most exciting part for anyone that’s not all that into the ceremonial aspects of the event.
Although there will be a lot of classical music and songs by the Coronation Choir – a diverse group made up of NHS workers, members of the LGBTQ+ community, refugees and the deaf – attention will no doubt be primarily given over to the star studded line-up of pop musicians.
Take That has been confirmed alongside a host of others that include names like Lionel Ritchie, Andrea Bocelli, Katy Perry, Freya Ridings and Alexis Ffrench (not a typo).
Tickets for that unfortunately went for that long ago but you can still watch it through a screen of your choice – again, more on that later.
Coronation Big Lunches
The Big Lunches will be happening all across the country around the time of the coronation. They’re essentially street parties that are open to all. You’ll probably have to pay for a ticket to one but all the money goes to charity.
The Big Help Out
The bank holiday Monday, should you not be too hungover to get out of bed, has been dedicated to something called The Big Help Out. That’s basically a day for you to do something positive in your community.
Whether you want to volunteer with an NGO or just spend an hour cleaning up the street after the previous night’s antics is up to you.
They have an app that’s got loads of ways that you can get involved and do something positive in your community. You can download that here.
Where Can I Watch the Coronation?
So, the big question.
You can obviously watch all the ceremonial proceedings and the Coronation Concert on national television, and hear commentary over the radio. There’ll also be live streams on the internet.
None of these channels or links have been announced yet but we’re confident if you google ‘watch King Charles Coronation’ or turn on a tv it’s all going to be right there.
Watching in Person
You’ll be able to see the procession to and from Westminster Abbey by standing along its route. These spaces are open to the public from 6am and you can bet your bottom dollar that people will be there at that time. You probably should be too if you want to nab a prime, road-side spot.
If you’re not up for staking out a space or wrestling with the crowds you can watch from a public big screen elsewhere in London. These will be set up at Hyde Park, Green Park and St. James’ Park and are free to enter.
Accessible Viewing Areas
There will also be special accessible viewing areas and quiet areas for people with accessibility needs. There’s obviously only limited spaces at these too, and like the other viewing spaces are first-come-first-served.
The Best Tube Spots for Seeing the Procession
Here’s a short list of tube spots near or on the route of the procession.
- Charing Cross
- Green Park
- Piccadilly Circus
- Leicester Square
For the screens at Hyde Park you can use
- Hyde Park Corner
- Marble Arch
How You Can Celebrate King Charles’ Coronation
Have an Afternoon Tea
What could be more traditional than an afternoon tea? Pretty much nothing except a nationwide royal ceremony we guess…
Well a bunch of fine London establishments are putting the heads of their best pastry chefs together for a run of special coronation afternoon teas that will be available around the time of the celebrations. We wrote a guide to the best of them. You can read that here.
Hit the Pubs
No doubt with a bank holiday on the cards the people will hit the pubs in style. Expect some patriotic outfits and much boozy debauchery. There’s also an added treat.
In honour of the coronation, licensing hours have shifted. From Friday 5th May – Sunday the 7th pubs and bars will be able to stay open till 1am to keep the party well and truly alive.
Have a Street Party
Here’s another classic form of royal celebration. The street party is a British tradition busted out for a royal good time whenever we have a good excuse. The coronation of Charles III and Camilla is certainly one of them.
This being England there are also some rules. If you’re having a small party between neighbours and friends you don’t need to do anything but figure out who’s bringing the trifle.
If you want to go all-out and shut down your street you’ll need to apply for a licence from the local council. Here’s a government tool for finding your local council’s website.
Attend Coronation Events
London businesses are throwing loads of events around the time of the coronation. Here are a few of our favourites.
Classy Champagne bar Searcys is laying it on thick at all of its locations. Highlights include a concert with the London Chamber Orchestra paired with an afternoon tea on the 6th May. That’s at their Pall Mall location – one that happens to be very close to the coronation procession.
London Transport Museum
From the 29th April – 1st May, London Transport Museum is offering the chance to ride on a restored, Art Deco-style 1938 Tube train. While on the ride you’ll be shot back to the last coronation in 1953, complete with costumed grenadier guard. More info here.
The Westin are offering a pretty top-notch package from the 1st – 14th May where you can book out deluxe suites fit for a king and indulge in all sorts of royal revelry from royal hampers to complimentary bottles of champagne. More info here.
Mayfair Coronation Garden Party
Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square is throwing a garden party on the 6th and 7th that promises a spread of good food from local businesses, picnic tables, outdoor wine bars and screens showing the ceremonies. And, best of all, a tequila truck by Mr. Foggs.
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is doing special behind-the-scenes tours where you can have a look at the building’s royal spaces. That means poking a head into the Royal Smoking Room, the Retiring Room and even grabbing a seat in the Royal Box. More info here.
Gourmet Indian restaurant Babur is celebrating with a full marquee and buffet lunch on Sunday 6th. For £25pp you can dine out on chicken tikka sausage rolls, slow-cooked vegetarian biryani, Raj-style chicken curry, South Indian lamb stew and more
The waxwork aficionados at Madame Tussauds have put together a full display of the Royal Family in honour of the coronation. It includes rooms decked out in full royal splendour so you can feel just a tiny bit of what it might actually feel like to be royalty. More info here.
London Eye Coronation Capsule
The people at The London Eye, always eager to celebrate the monarchy, have decked out some of the viewing capsules to mimic the interior of Westminster Abbey.
This will be complete with a replica of the 700 year old coronation chair, where you can sit with replicas of the crown jewels and look over London as if you ruled the place. More information and booking here.
Coronation Boat Party
If you wanna let royally loose on coronation weekend there’s a boat party setting off from Westminster Pier that runs all Saturday night and into the early hours of Sunday morning. And when we say early we mean it: this thing ends at 6am. Tickets here.
Kensington Palace is throwing a major exhibition of royal fashion that features everything from ball gowns to jewellery and outfits by pop-royalty Katy Perry and Beyoncé. That runs until October 29th. More information here.
Why All the Fuss?
Well, put simply: this is a really momentous occasion. It’s easy to forget it if, like us, you’re probably more excited about the prospect of an extra bank holiday in May or you come from a country that doesn’t obsess over this kind of thing, but coronations are a near-thousand year old tradition…
They date right back to, and have remained pretty much the same since, the Normans conquered Britain back in 1066 and brought many of their own regal traditions to the isles.
It’s also the first coronation in the UK since 1953. So it’s also the first coronation in living memory for most people living today, save basically the elderly.
Compound that with the fact that it’s not just the Brits that get behind this stuff. Charles is set to become the head of state of all Commonwealth countries too – that means Australia, New Zealand, Canada, places like Antigua and Bermuda, Jamaica, Granada and Belize. 14 countries in all.
It’s also important as it comes at a time when people across the Commonwealth are starting to question the importance of the monarchy, and whether we even need royal heads of state at all.
In recent years the Royal Family have been in the spotlight for being deviously untransparent about their vast wealth, having close ties to child-sex-trafficker Jeffery Epstien, airing of much dirty laundry re. renegade now-non-royal couple Megan and Harry, ill treatment of Lady Dianna if we really want to cast our eye back, the list goes on…
And it also includes eye-wateringly unsavoury – if unsavoury is even the right word for this – evidence of their role in the transatlantic slave trade, a slave trade that has, remember, ripped apart like soft bread communities in many of the countries the Crown still rules.
Regardless of what you think of the Royals, May’s coronation is a big deal for another reason: the passing of Queen Elizabeth was really the end of a period that had one foot in the past and the other in the present day.
That is to say, a Royal head of state made a lot more sense in the 50s than it does now. Elizabeth II also came to typify everything a king or queen should be in a constitutional monarchy: stately, dignified, aloof from politics.
As England’s longest reigning monarch it became easy to forget that royal rule isn’t always conducted Elizabeth’s way. So no surprise then there’s undercurrents of low-key public worry about the crowning of a prince who allegedly powers his Aston Martin on wine and demands that his vegetables are only ever cooked in a specific brand of Welsh mineral water.
Who Cares? Let’s Have a Royally Good Time
But really, who cares? And really, what do you expect from a sheltered family possessed of fortunes that’d make you weep to see the figures of. At the end of the day you could get your head twisted up about the politics of all this. For most of us it’s a good excuse for a party and to feel a good-ol’-fashioned dose of National Pride.
The pubs are staying open late. We’ve got a three day weekend. We’ve got what could be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion on our hands and one that is genuine history in the making. London will be humming with activity and happy, excited people. We plan to make the most of it.
Coronation of King Charles: Practical Information and Map
When is the coronation of King Charles III? May 6th at 11am, but followed by a full coronation weekend of festivities (including an extra bank holiday) from May 6th – 8th.
Where is it happening? The ceremony takes place at Westminster Abbey
- Expect London to be extremely busy over the coronation weekend – and we mean heaving. It’s likely that pubs, restaurants and bars will be packed to capacity as will public transport options.
- Roads will also be closed across the city centre and traffic no doubt a nightmare.
- In short, treat coronation weekend as if London has ground to a halt.
- You’ll want to get there super early if you’re planning to watch the processions from the side of the road. The gates open at 6am.