Time Travel Back To 17th Century London - With This Royalist Reenactment Along The Mall

Time Travel Back To 17th Century London - With This Royalist Reenactment Along The Mall
the King's Army parade down the Mall in funeral costume
This is the 51st time that The King's Army commemorate the execution of Charles I.

30 January marks a grim date in the annals of London history.

On this day in 1649, King Charles I was led from St James's Palace to Banqueting House on Whitehall, in front of which he was beheaded, thus drawing a gory line under the English Civil War.

Grinning 17th Century soldiers on the Mall
Some of the proclamations of loyalty to Charles may sound strange, seeing as we have a King Charles again.

For the past half century, The King's Army — a royalist branch of the English Civil War Society — has commemorated what they call "His Majestie's horrid murder", and on Sunday 29 January 2023, they return for their 51st parade.

A parade of reenactors - with Horseguards and the London Eye in the background
Wherever your own monarchist loyalties lie, this is a chance to experience a touch of time travel in central London.

The full-costumed march — think dozens of volunteers in royalist costumes, mounted troops and weapons — traces the short final journey of the King, as he was escorted to the scaffold.

a 17th century print showing the execution of the kind on a platform outside banqueting house, surrounded by onlookers
A (somewhat gruesome) contemporary German print of the execution of Charles I outside Banqueting House. Image: public domain.

The reenactment group forms near St James's Palace, on the Mall in period funeral dress at around 11.15am. Then, at 11.30am, they proceed to Horse Guard's Parade for a commemorative service — in which a wreath is laid at Banqueting House. (It's a well-known, if disputed piece of London trivia that a black mark at 2pm on the clock above Horse Guards signifies the the time that the axe fell on Charles' neck.)

A mother and child in 17th century dress
The procession isn't just soldiers, either.

Next, the army — now changed into battle dress — retrace the route back to St James's Palace, beating drums, flying the King's colours and proclaiming their loyalty to him. (This may all sound a little strange in 2023, given that we once again have a King Charles.)

A group of royalists in 17th century costumes raise their pikes in central London
On 29 January, central London time travels back to 1649.

Wherever your own monarchist loyalties lie, this is a chance to experience a touch of time travel in central London — and it's free, too. If you really are a dyed in the wool republican, you can always feast on a calve's head instead.

March in Commemoration of Charles I, starts on the Mall around 11am, Sunday 29 January 2023, free, just turn up.

Last Updated 27 January 2023

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