Whether you’re going to the London for the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on May 6, or just happen to be toddling through town at the time, the historic event is guaranteed to be an all-encompassing experience for both residents and visitors, with both pleasures and annoyances certain to reveal themselves in the days leading up to, and during, Coronation Weekend.
I was living in London for the summer when Charles and Diana tied the knot on July 29, 1981 – perhaps the most comparable event in the UK in recent memory. And what I remember most is crowds like I had never seen before.
Indeed, for the upcoming Coronation – less than a fortnight away – authorities are warning with typical British understatement: “Please be aware that large crowds are expected!”
Additionally, there will be road closures in place to ensure the event is delivered safely and public transport services are likely to be very busy with some station closures and bus diversions, especially around the Westminster and Hyde Park areas.
Nevertheless, for those who are there, the spectacle should be embraced, not feared, and with a little prep, will be remembered fondly and forever.
After all, the Coronation will mark the crowning of Britain’s 62nd monarch and continues the tradition of every event having taken place at Westminster Abbey since 1066, with the first being William the Conqueror. And with 1,200 years of history behind them, the royal family knows a few things about celebrating tradition and hosting spectacular events.
Here’s what you need to know:
Where and when: May 6
The first procession will begin on the morning of May 6. Their Majesties will travel in procession in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, drawn by six Windsor Grey horses, from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. This is known as ‘The King’s Procession.’ The Household Cavalry will provide the Sovereign’s Escort.
The King’s Procession will travel along The Mall, through Admiralty Arch, passing to the south of the King Charles Island statue in Trafalgar Square before turning onto Whitehall. The procession will continue down Whitehall and along the east and south sides of Parliament Square, arriving at Westminster Abbey.The Coronation service will begin at 11 a.m. at Westminster Abbey.
After the Coronation service, their Majesties will return to Buckingham Palace as part of a larger ceremonial procession, known as ‘The Coronation Procession.’ They will travel in the Gold State Coach, drawn by eight Windsor Grey horses.
The procession will arrive at Buckingham Palace in the afternoon where they will receive a salute from the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Armed Forces in the Buckingham Palace Gardens, and appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony. There will then be a ceremonial flypast.
How to watch
People can watch the Coronation processions in person at viewing areas on both sides of The Mall and Whitehall along the procession route in London (note: there are no screens along the route to watch the Coronation).
* Be aware that, like royal wedding of 1981, people may arrive the night before (if not days) before to secure the best viewing spots along the route.
The processions and service will be shown on screening sites around the country; and other local celebrations, street parties, and events will be held.
In London there will the screening sites at Hyde Park (four screens), Green Park, and St James’s Park – open from 6 a.m. on Saturday May 6. Authorities note the latter two parks are smaller than Hyde Park and will reach capacity quickly and will be closed when filled.
For those who don’t want to camp out or fight the crowds, both processions and the Coronation service will be broadcast live on national television, radio and online.
The afternoon after
After the Coronation Procession has passed down The Mall, police will open the route to allow people to move onto the road. People will be able to walk down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace, to watch the balcony appearance. The police will monitor crowd numbers and gradually open the viewing areas, to ensure that everyone stays safe and secure.
What to bring
• Suitable clothing for the weather conditions. You may want to bring warm, protective clothing or an umbrella in cold or wet weather, or sunscreen and a hat if it is likely to be sunny.
• A water bottle. There will be water refill stations at the viewing areas and screening sites where you can refill bottles. There will also be concession kiosks available where you can buy food and drinks, but you may want to bring your own refreshments (particularly if you have specific dietary requirements).
• Appropriate footwear. You will be required to stand outdoors for long periods, so you are advised to wear comfortable shoes.
• If you are visiting the screening sites at Hyde Park, St James’s Park, or The Green Park, you may want to bring a blanket, stool, or folding chair to sit on as the viewing screens are located in grassy areas (but note there may not be space to use or store them). Do not bring stools or folding chairs to the procession route viewing areas.
(And not to bring)
• Barbecues and equipment for fires.
• Glass items. Broken glass is a hazard to other visitors and wildlife and can be difficult to remove. If you bring your own refreshments, please use paper or plastic cups for your drinks.
• If you are visiting the procession route viewing areas, do not bring stools or folding chairs.
• Oh, and, of course, no drones!
First published at Travel Industry Today