2022 was a landmark year for regal events in London — with a platinum jubilee and a state funeral for Elizabeth II. 2023 is another biggie, with the coronation of her son, Charles III this May.
We've put together a guide to the coronation happenings in London, so you can plan ahead.
When is Charles III's coronation?
Saturday 6 May 2023. The coronation will take place at 11am, following a 'King's Procession' from Buckingham Palace.
Where is the coronation taking place?
Westminster Abbey. Charles will be the 40th monarch to be crowned at the Abbey, in a tradition that spans back to William the Conqueror, and is only bucked by Charles's great uncle, Edward VIII, who was never crowned, the rebel. The last coronation to take place here was, of course, that of Elizabeth II in June 1953.
So is Charles not King until he's crowned?
He became King the moment his mum died. The coronation is the formalisation of Charles's ascendency to the throne, and apparently he can't go swanking about wearing the Crown Jewels until he's gone through with it.
Is Camilla going to be crowned too?
Yup, as Queen Consort, alongside Charles in the same ceremony. It's a two-for-one.
What's the coronation route?
The simple route sets off from Buckingham Palace, down the Mall then takes a right onto Whitehall and to Westminster Abbey. When the crowning's done and dusted, the route takes place in reverse. The public are invited to line the way (see the purple bits in the map above), and there will be toilets, water refills, first aid stations, etc set up. Do we need to tell you that it'll be busy, and it's a good idea to get there early? Well we just did.
Who's invited to the coronation?
Most of the Royal Family will be there, of course, including Prince Harry (but not Meghan Markle). Prince Andrew? Still not sure about that one, but... probably? Although top brass from around the world will be at the coronation, there'll be a conspicuous absence from US President Joe Biden, who recently felt compelled to insist he is not anti-British (in all honesty he's probably just focussed on running for a second term).
On the list of celebrities who'll make you squint and go "Is that...?" are David and Victoria Beckham, Stella McCartney, Joanna Lumley, Rowan Atkinson... and Bear Grylls. The question on everyone's lips, of course, is will Big Suze, aka Sophie Winkleman aka Claudia Winkleman's sister, be in attendance? The answer, seeing as her husband is Lord Frederick Windsor, is probably yes. It brings great joy to us that every major royal occasion is like watching some bizarro episode of Peep Show. Well, after all, as Mark once said: "God, she's so posh, that I, Mark Corrigan, who was privately educated until dad's British Aerospace shares went kaput, could be her bit of rough."
Can members of the public attend the coronation?
Inside the Abbey? You must be joking. But you'll be able to get into central London, and presumably along the Mall to see the processions. Inevitably, there will be people prepared to arrive ludicrously early to get a good view. Inevitably, they will come bearing Union Flags.
What else is happening on coronation day?
As we mentioned, once the royal bonces have been crowned, a grand Coronation Procession will make its way up the Mall back to Buckingham Palace, with other royals tagging along.
Later on, the updated Royal Family will appear on Buckingham Palace's famous balcony, and wave to well wishers. A familiar scenario, with a slightly changed cast — it'll be odd not to have the Queen out there in one of her luminous numbers.
Is there a bank holiday for the coronation?
Yes! After initial rumblings that there wasn't going to be one, it's confirmed that Monday 8 May will be a national bank holiday. So you can expect London to be in full-on party mode on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Monarchists and non-monarchists alike can get on board with that.
Is public transport running in London on coronation day?
Transport in London over coronation weekend should be generally very good. There are no planned closures on any tube or train lines in the city; night tube and night Overground services will run on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 May; and Network Rail has confirmed all major train services into London will run, too. We should have coronations more often!
TfL suggests that you use public transport (or your own two feet) to get to, and around central, London.
On the day of the coronation, parts of central Westminster will be closed for obvious reasons — meaning some bus services will stop short, and roads will be closed to drivers.
Oh by the way, here are some great photos of London Transport making preparations for the last coronation, in 1953.
What else is happening on coronation weekend?
Sunday 7 May sees a big Coronation Concert, although that's at Windsor Castle. As part of the concert, there'll be a 'Lighting up the Nation' moment, which London landmarks will take part in.
Monday 8 May sees The Big Help Out, where people across the UK are invited to roll up their sleeves and do a shift for a local group or national charity.
A Coronation Big Lunch is taking place over the bank holiday weekend (and right through into June in fact), with communities across the country encouraged to hone their coronation chicken recipe, and eat sandwiches with their neighbours.
Also check out our guide: Where To Celebrate King Charles III's Coronation In London.
Will there be big screens in London for the coronation?
The coronation will, of course, be televised. If you want to soak up the atmos of central London, but also want to be able to see and hear the coronation itself, there will be big outdoor screens set up: four in Hyde Park, one in St James's Park and one in Green Park.
Are there any hotels left for coronation weekend?
Interestingly, since we first wrote this article in February, a quick search on Booking.com suggests there are now a few hotels with not-too-crazily-expensive rooms over coronation weekend. Don't get us wrong, they're still not cheap (starting around £165 a night), but that's waaaay thriftier than what we were finding before.