Do you want to go to London for the coronation of Charles III? 10 things to know (and do)

Coronation of King Charles III of England

Guide to coronation weekend in London: exhibitions to see, free events, places closed to the public and tips to avoid surprises.

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Coronation of King Charles III of England

It has been 70 years since a king was last crowned at Westminster Abbey. It was 1953 and a very young girl Elizabeth II changed the course of history, with a televised ceremony. Today it’s the son’s turn, Charles III, in a completely new world between social networks and low cost flights. The Grand Coronation of May 6, 2023 will call to London a crowd of tourists, including enthusiasts of royal affairs and the simply curious: the opportunity to see history up close is, in fact, unique. If you’re planning a trip to London, here’s a practical guide to what to see (and what not). All the events of the weekend – including exhibitions, afternoon tea and personalized coronations – places closed to the public and advice to avoid nasty surprises.

1 The program of the May 6 coronation

The celebrations for the coronation of the new king will last the whole weekend, but the heart is the sacred ceremony of 6 May 2023, in theWestminster Abbey. It is the most sacred event, organized in the smallest details and interwoven with ancient symbols, from the consecrated oil to the throne of 700 years ago. Afterwards, the royal family will return to Buckingham Palace in a ceremonial procession known as ‘The Coronation Procession’, which will retrace the same route as they went. The king travels in a special carriage. Once back at Buckingham Palace, the king and queen consort will appear on the balcony to greet the crowd: it is the right opportunity to see them, albeit from a distance, together with William, Kate Middleton and the princelings.

2 The places closed to the public for the coronation

The end of the ceremony is not enough to visit Westminster Abbey, a place rich in history and charm: the abbey will be closed from April 25th to May 14th to allow for preparations. Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and the Tower of London are also closed on Coronation Day. On May 6, traffic will be particularly congested and limited in the central streets to allow for the royal procession. The route runs along The Mall through Admiralty Arch, then south of Trafalgar Square, then along Whitehall and Parliament Street, through Parliament Square to the Broad Sanctuary, before arriving at the Abbey. Metro lines may also vary.

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Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

3. Where to see the coronation of King Charles

It goes without saying that the guest list for the big event is more than restricted to heads of government and crowned heads. However, many people will spend a night on the street to secure a place along the barriers outside Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, as well as on Horse Guards Parade and Parliament Square. It will be an observation point open to the public along the north side of The Mall, as well as big screens scattered throughout the city. In addition to long standing hours care must be taken to possible demonstrations and protests. The most convenient alternative is to watch the ceremony on television or in live streaming: those who are in the United Kingdom will also be able to see it in parks and libraries equipped for the occasion.

4. The concert and Coronation Lunch on May 7, 2023

The celebrations continue on May 7 with a great concert at Windsor Castle, where Andrea Bocelli and Katy Perry will perform, among others. Tickets have already been assigned by drawing lots, but the event will be broadcast live on TV. Those in the UK on Sunday can enjoy the Coronation Big Lunch, open-air parties and street lunches across the country, including plenty of neighborhood ‘afternoon tea’. In the evening you can enjoy the show Light Up the Nation: the main London attractions, and beyond, will be illuminated by plays of light, projections, lasers and drones.

5. Monday 8 May is a national holiday

Coronation weekend also extends to Monday: 8 May 2023 is a national holiday, which allows for an extra day’s holiday, but may affect shop and restaurant openings (check websites before venturing out!) . However, the whole city is buzzing with themed experiences, both inside and outside London.

6. Pay attention to the prices of planes and hotels

If you are contemplating a getaway to London for the coronation, the time to book is now: traveling on 5 May, the day before the coronation, the average cost of flights is around 40-50 euros, a figure that could increase but don’t explode. In fact, many sector operators believe that tourists will avoid the most chaotic days and will flock to the following weekend. According to a survey by Trivago, the average for a night in a hotel is £254 per night, compared to £154 last year. A room for the entire weekend can cost up to the equivalent of 1000 euros, a figure that rises in the case of hotels located in the heart of London.

7. The exhibitions not to be missed

Traveling to the UK in this period allows you to enjoy extraordinary openings and “royal” themed exhibitions. Absolutely not to be missed is the exhibition Crown to Couture in the official residence of William and Kate, Kensington Palace. A tempting opportunity to admire one of the symbolic places of the crown as well as a collection of unique dresses that belonged to royalty and stars such as Lady Gaga and Lizzo: from the silver fabric dress of Charles II to the crystal dress of Beyoncé.

8. Tours and events outside London

Want to escape London? Tours to places associated with the British royal family are organized throughout the UK. This could be the right occasion to visit the royal residences of Sandringham, in Norfolk, or Windsor Castle, in Berkshire. Not only that: in 2023 the yacht Britannia, Queen Elizabeth’s house on the water, will be 70 years old and is well worth a visit. On May 13, instead, Liverpool will host Eurovision: a mandatory stop for Beatles fans.

9. Coronation commemorative souvenirs

Before returning home, it is mandatory to buy at least one cup or saucer that commemorates this historic event. Like any self-respecting royal appointment, in fact, the coronation of Charles II will also have its official merchandise, on sale at the Royal Collection Shop. Want to shop like royalty? A stop is obligatory in Sevile Row, the heart of British tailoring, at Fortnum & Mason for food, at Floris for bespoke perfumes and Smythson for stationery items.

10. Yes, you can have a personalized coronation!

We can all be kings for a day: the London Eye, one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, has created a special Coronation Capsule, open to the public between 29 April and 8 May. During the panoramic ride you can stage your own coronation with props inspired by the original and even toast with champagne!

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