Editor-at-large Matt Brown took a walk around central London three days before the coronation of Charles III, chronicling the flags, the royalist flourishes and a golden carriage-load of minutiae.
The coronation is a huge national, indeed international, event. But it's also a London event. There are few streets in central London it hasn't touched — whether formal flags, ad hoc bunting or something more... odd. Here are 21 photos from a walk around the city, a few days before the coronation.
Odds and ends from around town
Most importantly, before I get onto all the bunting and crown worship, we should note that Charles has now been included on Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese's board of monarchs. This means he is now officially our true sovereign, even if the Fleet Street pub has got his accession date wrong.
Heading west, Covent Garden is very much bunting central, with more union flags than you could wave a golden sceptre at. The Apple Market is probably the most patriotic building in London right now.
They've also got a coronation-themed al fresco pub round the back, known as The Crown Jewels.
More bunting in Chinatown, where the Union Flags are bunking up with the perennial lanterns. I happened to be walking past just as they were going up.
I had to make a beeline for the Prince Charles Cinema. The much-loved venue is famous for its sense of humour and, right now, it certainly doesn't disappoint.
One of the highlights, if that's the right word, of the coronation hype can be found around Oxford Circus. Here, three bus shelters have been topped by somewhat tacky replicas of St Edward's Crown. As we discovered in a separate article, one of them seems to have been nicked.
Piccadilly, like Oxford Street, is replete with Union Flags. But turn off into Burlington Arcade and you'll find something even more dignified. The entire arcade is decked out in New Carolean finery. Very classy. I counted three costumed beadles standing guard, which is two more than usual.
Meanwhile, the National Gallery gets the award for most majestic scaffolding. The venue is busy covering its ongoing renovation works with a similar red royal wrap. The coronation procession, after all, will be passing close by at the foot of Trafalgar Square (where the Charles I statue has been cordoned off).
Word on the street isn't universally deferential. I clocked a number of critical posters across the West End. Not sure who's behind them.
Along the coronation procession route
The processional route itself was a hive of activity by Wednesday afternoon. Large sections of the carriageway have been closed off, with king-seekers fenced off to the side. The Mall is, of course, lined with the expected Union Flags as well as those of other Commonwealth nations. Admiralty Arch — still a building site in its conversion to a hotel — is draped with Happy & Glorious banners. Blue is very much the colour along the procession route, where elsewhere flags and banners are red.
One surprise was to find an official Charles III gas lamp, augustly combusting fossil fuels at the entrance to St James's Park.
Meanwhile, the western end of The Mall is filling up nicely with tents. It's a long wait, but what's a few days when it's been 86 years since you could last see a king on his way to be crowned?
And then, of course, we have the characters. It takes a certain determination to sleep among the grit and horse shit of The Mall for several nights. I think it's fair to say that this chap might be a royalist.
The road in front of Buckingham Palace was off limits on my visit, thanks to a huge palace garden party which saw thousands of people queueing in their finery for perhaps quarter of a mile. So I headed down towards the Abbey.
Here, the centre of Parliament Square is cordoned off with a heavy police presence, presumably to deter protestors ahead of the big event. Meanwhile, the viewing stands and television cranes are being installed. I've rarely seen Westminster so busy. It's clear this is to be one of the largest events in recent London history.
Bonus photo: And then there's Penge...
All images by Matt Brown