How London and the rest of England are preparing for a very modern coronation

How London and the rest of England are preparing for a very modern coronation

How London and the rest of England are preparing for a very modern coronation

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In just a week’s time King Charles III will be crowned in an official coronation ceremony in London’s Westminster Abbey. It will mark one of the most significant historical milestones for the country, as the first royal coronation to take place for several generations – since Charles’ mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953.

From gold-gilded coaches to bunting-draped street parties – we sat down to chat with London specialist, and this week’s Insightful destination expert, Mark Conroy to find out how the English capital – and the rest of the country – are preparing for this momentous occasion.

Don’t forget to test your knowledge against Mark in our Insightful Trivia Game.

For travel inspiration: England destination guide


On Saturday 6th May, England and the rest of the UK will witness the crowning of a new sovereign head of state for the first time in almost 70 years. Queen Elizabeth II was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, overtaking the previous longest royal rule of 63 years by Queen Victoria.

King Charles III is the 63rd monarch to rule over England and Great Britain over the last 1,200 years, and the oldest heir apparent to succeed to the British throne. He will coronated alongside his wife, Camilla, the Queen Consort, who will become Queen Camilla.

As the first royal coronation to take place in London since 1953, it’s a hugely significant event that’s anticipated to be watched by up to 300 million people worldwide.

“Of course, in 1953 television cameras were brought in for the brief first time because Prince Philip wanted to the coronation televised, against the wishes of the establishment,” Mark explains. “They feared if people were able to watch at home, they might not be wearing a top hat and tie, as was tradition at the time. But Philip won the day.”

Every generation of Britain’s monarchy has had to contend with the changing of the times, and balance this with the appetite for tradition. The coronation of King Charles III will be no different in that respect.

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“King Charles’ coronation will be nothing like his mother’s,” says Mark. “It’ll be a modern coronation for modern times. And modern times today unfortunately also means being in the midst of an economic crisis, something the Charles is very aware of.

“With that in mind, the ceremony will be reduced to one hour rather than three, and there will be 2,000 guests rather than the 8,000 that were present at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. Members of the House of Lords, rather than wearing their traditional crimson coronation robes with the fur collar, will be wearing suits and ties.

“He’s also said that, as the head of the Church of England, he wants to represent a broader spectrum of religious beliefs, as well as ethnic minorities. His involvement with charities will be factored in too. Charles is the patron of 17 charities, and rather than just inviting members of the traditional ‘great and good’, workers will be invited to represent the charities they’re involved with. We’re expecting it to be a real mixed audience.”


“We now know the procession route for the coronation,” Mark explains. “Charles and Camilla will be escorted from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the Diamond Jubilee state coach. They will take a route along the Mall, down Whitehall, and through Parliament Square before arriving at Westminster Abbey. They’ll return to Buckingham Palace in the older (and considerably less comfortable) Gold State Coach, which has been used in every coronation since William IV’s in 1831.

“If you’re lucky enough to be in London for the event, I recommend getting down to the procession route a couple of days early – seriously. We expect people to be camping out along the procession route, and it’s likely food and toilets will be available long before the event itself.

“That being said, if you arrive on the day and are prepared to jostle for position, the best place to try for a view of the new King and Queen would be at a point where the coach will be turning. So, at the corner of The Mall and Whitehall, or where Whitehall enters Parliament Square. Although the closer you get to Westminster Abbey, you’ll also be competing with the TV studios!

“If you don’t like the idea of fighting your way through the crowds on the day, there is a chance you could get a ‘private’ viewing of the procession if you’re really lucky. In the days leading up to the coronation, there will be all sorts of rehearsals taking place behind closed doors. However, you can’t rehearse the procession behind closed doors – so, if you’re in the area, most likely very late at night (or early in the morning), you might catch a glimpse of the royal coach and horses clip-clopping through silent London streets. A magical sight.”

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“I’m old enough to have been present at Charles and Diana’s wedding, as well as for several Jubilees, and the atmosphere was unforgettable,” Mark tells us. “I expect it to be on a whole other level for the coronation, a real party atmosphere. There’ll be people performing music in the streets, Union Jack flags strung up everywhere – the whole of London really will be focused on this one small area in the centre of the city.

“But the celebrations won’t be limited to the capital. There will be official and unofficial events taking place across the country over the bank holiday weekend. On Sunday 7th May in particular, The Coronation Big Lunch – a scheme devised to help boost community spirit, reduce loneliness and support charities – will see thousands of individual street parties, and independent smaller events take place throughout the country.

“On Monday 8th May, the Big Help Out will encourage people to try volunteering for themselves and join the work being undertaken to support their local areas. This will be supported by a wide range of partners including The Scouts, the Royal Voluntary Service and will hopefully bring communities together and create a lasting volunteering legacy from the coronation weekend.”


“As well as working for Insight as a London Destination Expert, I’m a trained actor,” Mark says. “I find the two things a little bit similar as they’re both about talking and making connections. I’ve always had an interest in travel and in history and it’s been a real pleasure of about 30 years now to show groups of Insight guests around my home city.

“We’ve got so much to offer, with hundreds of museums, rich history, world-leading culture, literature and art. I take a particular pleasure in telling the secret stories of London – of the places and people you wouldn’t normally ever read about.”

To explore London and the rest of England in style, take a look at our England tours.

And why not test your travel knowledge against Mark and other Insightful destination experts? Each week, our Insightful Trivia Game will introduce you to the world’s leading destination experts and challenge you with a quiz to win a monthly travel prize.