- 1. ‘Follow in the footsteps’ of Charles at Westminster Abbey
- 2. King’s Procession: from the Palace to the Abbey
- 3. Bath Abbey
- 4. Royal Edinburgh and the Palace of Holyroodhouse
- 5. Hillsborough Castle
- 6. Windsor Castle
- 7. Tower of London and the Crown Jewels
- 8. English Heritage coronation weekend: Isle of Wight, Warwickshire and South Yorkshire
- 9. Highgrove gardens tour and cream tea
- 10. Balmoral Castle
- 11. Sandringham and the King’s watercolours exhibition
- 12. Coronation prom at St Davids Cathedral
- 13. ‘Crown to Couture’ exhibition at Kensington Palace
- 14. Royal tours and afternoon tea at Theatre Royal Drury Lane
- 15. ToursByLocals’s royal tours of Windsor and Edinburgh
- 16. Fortnum & Mason coronation afternoon tea
- 17. Coronation-themed food and drink at The Goring Hotel
- 18. The Dorchester façade decorations inspired by 1953 coronation
- 19. The Savoy celebrates the coronation
- 20. Hotel Café Royal’s royal packages
- 21. ‘A very royal occasion’ at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
- 22. An insider’s guide to Royal London with The Milestone Hotel
- 23. The Lanesborough coronation celebration package
- 24. ‘Stay like a king’ at Strand Palace
- 25. Who’s going to join the party?
Pageantry, pomp and long-standing traditions will be the royal order of the day when the coronation of King Charles III takes place at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday.
In this royal tour of Britain we pick out the places to visit that have a significant association with the monarchy, and also look at the royal experiences and events taking place.
1. ‘Follow in the footsteps’ of Charles at Westminster Abbey
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Westminster Abbey in central London has been Britain’s coronation church since 1066 and King Charles III will be the 40th reigning monarch to be crowned there. In preparation for the coronation, the Abbey will be closed from 25 April and reopening on 8 May.
Visitors wanting to “follow in the footsteps” of Charles will get the chance this summer, but they’ll “have to take off their shoes”, said Amy Woodyatt on CNN. Tickets are sold out, but those who have booked on the Abbey’s Church and Crown tour will be invited to “walk on the church’s historic Cosmati pavement” – the spot where Charles’s “newly restored coronation chair” will be placed on 6 May.
Other events taking place at Westminster Abbey include a coronation exhibition (8 April-30 September); Abbey Late: Crowns, coronations and creativity (17 May); and coronation theatre self-guided tours.
2. King’s Procession: from the Palace to the Abbey
Before arriving at Westminster Abbey, the “king’s procession” will start from Buckingham Palace then “travel down the Mall, run through Admiralty Arch and past Trafalgar Square”, said Alex Ledsom on Forbes. Then it will “turn down Whitehall, move along Parliament Street, head into Parliament Square, through Broad Sanctuary and arrive at Westminster Abbey”. The return will take the same 1.3-mile route, so it is expected that “people will camp out on the streets to stake a place with a good enough vantage point for both the outgoing and return journeys”.
After the service, the royals will return to the palace in a larger ceremonial procession known as the “coronation procession”, before appearing on the balcony as a finale to the day’s events.
In a “break with tradition”, Charles and Camilla will “roll out” of Buckingham Palace in the horse-drawn gilded black Diamond Jubilee State Coach built for Queen Elizabeth’s 60th anniversary, said the Association Press. The horse-drawn carriage has “heat, air conditioning, power windows and a suspension system” that will provide a comfy ride. However, the carriage will not be used for the entire coronation. On departing the Abbey, the newly-crowned couple will use the 260-year-old Gold State Coach, which is said to be far less comfortable.
3. Bath Abbey
Did you know that the first king of all England, King Edgar, was crowned on the site of Bath Abbey in 973, said The Bath Magazine. And his coronation service “set the precedent” for the ceremonies of all future kings and queens of England and Great Britain.
Bath Abbey will be hosting a royal celebration concert on Friday 5 May, then on Saturday 6 May the coronation will be broadcast live in the Abbey at 11am and a coronation peal will be rung at the end of the service. All the services in the Abbey on Sunday 7 May will have a coronation theme and on Monday 8 May visitors can take part in “patriotic printing”.
4. Royal Edinburgh and the Palace of Holyroodhouse
Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh is home to many important royal attractions, including the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny at Edinburgh Castle. The city is also where the king’s official residence in Scotland is located, the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Open throughout the year, the Palace of Holyroodhouse stands at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and visitors can explore the palace’s close associations with some of Scotland’s most well-known historic figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie.
A Royal Edinburgh Ticket, booked through Edinburgh Bus Tours, is valid for 48 hours on all three city tours (Edinburgh Tour, Majestic Tour and CitySightseeing Edinburgh) and includes entry to Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyroodhouse and The Royal Yacht Britannia.
5. Hillsborough Castle
Another of the king’s official residences is Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. Located just 20 minutes from Belfast, visitors can explore the castle and 100 acres of beautiful gardens.
For the coronation weekend, the 6 May service will be shown live on a big screen at Hillsborough Castle and the occasion will also be marked by a rare royal gun salute at midday by the 206 (Ulster) Battery, Royal Artillery. Brass band Downshire Brass will play pieces throughout the day.
On the Sunday, the gardens will be filled with live music from Boom Strutt Brass, Belfast Community Gospel Choir, Swingtime Starlets and Lisburn Rock Choir. Then on bank holiday Monday, castle tours and coronation tree tours will be held.
6. Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle has served as a royal family home for almost 1,000 years. The site, “high above the Thames and on the edge of a Saxon hunting ground”, was chosen by William the Conqueror, said the Royal Collection Trust. Construction on the castle began around 1070 and was finished approximately 16 years later.
On Sunday 7 May a special coronation concert will be staged and broadcast live at Windsor Castle by the BBC and BBC Studios. Several thousand pairs of tickets have been made available via public ballot, which is now closed. The line-up will include Take That, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Andrea Bocelli and Bryn Terfel.
Other attractions include private tours of the State Apartments at Windsor Castle and viewings of Queen Mary’s dolls’ house. Kids will enjoy “crowns and coronations at the castle”, where they can have fun making crowns and creating coronation-themed crafts.
7. Tower of London and the Crown Jewels
Once a royal residence and notorious prison, the Tower of London is a World Heritage Site with 1,000 years of history at its core. The imposing fortress is home to the Crown Jewels, a collection of more than 23,000 dazzling gemstones. Visitors can meet the guardians of the tower – its legendary ravens – and learn more about this feast of Norman architecture from the Yeoman Warders, often known as Beefeaters, who have guarded the tower since Tudor times.
From May to September, the coronation bench trail will feature 14 illustrated benches which have been specially designed by school children. And from 1 May to 21 July, “Restoration at The Tower” will look at how preparations were made for Charles II’s coronation procession.
8. English Heritage coronation weekend: Isle of Wight, Warwickshire and South Yorkshire
Gather your family, pack a picnic blanket and celebrate the coronation live on the big screen in the spectacular grounds of one of three English Heritage sites: Osborne on the Isle of Wight, the former home of Queen Victoria; Elizabethan favourite Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire; and Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire. As well as the screenings, family-friendly films will also be shown. Tickets are free, but booking is recommended.
9. Highgrove gardens tour and cream tea
Lovers of horticulture can enjoy a tour of the gardens at Highgrove, the king’s Gloucestershire residence. Discover the history and inspiration behind its design, followed by a savoury and sweet cream tea served in the Orchard Room. The Ante Room Shop will also host a selection of artwork by the king. Select dates until September.
10. Balmoral Castle
While official royal residences like Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace are owned by The Crown Estate, Balmoral Castle is one of two private residences owned by the Royal Family, with Sandringham in Norfolk the other. Located in Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Princess Eugenie described the Balmoral estate as “the most beautiful place in the world”. This year, the grounds, gardens and exhibitions at Balmoral Castle are open to the public from 1 April until 16 August.
In the nearby village of Ballater, you will find the Balmoral Arms, a Highlands hideaway that’s “fit for a king”, said Jamie Timson in his review on TheWeek.co.uk. Recently renovated by the Crerar Hotel Group, the AA five-star Balmoral Arms provides an “authentic snapshot of Highland life, with a welcoming and cosy array of rooms and suites on offer to cater for every budget”.
11. Sandringham and the King’s watercolours exhibition
Sandringham is the other residence privately owned by the monarch. Located in Norfolk, Sandringham House was the “beloved” country estate of the late Queen Elizabeth and it’s perhaps “best known” as the home where the Windsors spend their Christmases, said Town & Country Magazine. Sandringham House, gardens, royal parkland and the Church of St. Mary Magdalene are open to visitors from April to October.
A collection of watercolours painted by the King are also currently on display at Sandringham. On show until 12 October, the exhibition contains a “range of scenes painted in the Welsh hills, the highlands of Scotland and at Windsor Castle, Highgrove, Birkhall Castle and the surrounding Norfolk countryside at Sandringham”. The exhibition can be seen and is included with a house and gardens ticket.
12. Coronation prom at St Davids Cathedral
St Davids Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, west Wales, will be hosting a “coronation prom” on Friday 5 May. Featuring the British Sinfonietta orchestra, introduced by Royal Variety Show and Royal Albert Hall conductor Ian McMillan-Davidson, the event will be a feast of orchestral coronation music as well as royal film, TV and radio favourites from Paddington 2, Desert Island Discs, The Archers, EastEnders, My Fair Lady, and The King and I.
13. ‘Crown to Couture’ exhibition at Kensington Palace
Across the UK there will be a number of royal-themed attractions and events taking place for the coronation. At Kensington Palace – the official London residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children – a new exhibition has opened, Crown to Couture, which “draws parallels between the red carpet and the Georgian court”, said Stephanie Bridger-Linning in Tatler. Staged in the magnificent State Apartments, “Beyoncé meets Bridgerton” in this “veritable fashion feast” that features more than 200 pieces.
14. Royal tours and afternoon tea at Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Theatre Royal Drury Lane, in the heart of London’s Covent Garden, is the only theatre in the world still operating under a genuine royal charter. It also has two royal boxes and the theatres on its site have been visited by every reigning monarch since the Restoration in 1663. A selection of exclusively curated experiences will be on offer including festive bunting decorations, a reimagined coronation Regency afternoon tea by London-based baker Lily Vanilli (from £59 per person) and immersive theatre tours (£22.50 per person) that take you on a royal journey through the ages.
15. ToursByLocals’s royal tours of Windsor and Edinburgh
ToursByLocals offers private tours led by expert locals, including many in royal cities and destinations. The five-hour Royal Windsor Castle and historic town tour is priced at £350 per tour (for up to six people) and is fully-customisable and includes the services of a knowledgeable guide.
A nine-hour Royal Edinburgh tour is priced at £850 per tour (for up to five people). The tour is fully-customisable and includes the services of a knowledgeable guide, private transportation, admission tickets and a Scottish welcome pack.
16. Fortnum & Mason coronation afternoon tea
Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly in London has unveiled its new coronation afternoon tea, which will be served every day at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon until September. The menu takes inspiration from the King’s favourite ingredients and his passion for the environment.
Unique items include Welsh lamb scotch egg with wild herb aioli, and native coronation lobster enhanced with coronation spice, which has been created exclusively for the monarch. Other delights include Harbourne blue cheese mousse with London honey glaze and popcorn; basil and pistachio mousse with an elderflower glaze; a royal vanilla mousse lollipop; chocolate and strawberry cupcake; and a crown sable biscuit for the youngest diners. Vegetarian versions will be on offer alongside full menus made without gluten.
17. Coronation-themed food and drink at The Goring Hotel
Located just minutes from Buckingham Palace, The Goring is the only hotel to be granted a Royal Warrant for hospitality services and since 1910 every reigning monarch has walked through its doors.
The Goring Hotel’s initiatives to honour the coronation of King Charles III include:
- coronation afternoon tea: £75pp with a glass of Bollinger champagne. Available 24 April-28 May
- Michelin-starred coronation tasting menu: available as à la carte and a six-course tasting menu. £140pp, to include canapés, petit fours and champagne. Available 1-7 May
- Coronation gin cocktails and the classic G&T: served in The Goring’s Cocktail Bar
18. The Dorchester façade decorations inspired by 1953 coronation
The Dorchester hotel’s façade has been transformed with beautiful decorations, reminiscent of those created by set designer Oliver Messel’s original designs for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. The decorations took six months to plan and feature a 10ft crown on top of the building. They will remain in place until 19 May.
Inside the hotel on Park Lane in London there will be a themed coronation afternoon tea at The Promenade (5-8 May), featuring stunning cakes created by executive pastry chef Michael Kwan. The coronation afternoon tea costs £125 per person and includes a glass of champagne and a gift. At Vesper Bar, head bartender Lucia Montanelli will be creating her newest cocktail, the “Sovereign Martini”. Inspired by the king’s favourite drink, the cocktail includes Wessex gin, Royal Garden mead, dry vermouth, lavender bitter and orange scent, poured into a rainbow-flecked martini glass.
19. The Savoy celebrates the coronation
Luxury London hotel The Savoy will commemorate the occasion with a floral installation, a Nyetimber Bus, and a street party. Tables laden with cakes and savoury treats will line the famous forecourt and a coupe fountain will flow with Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine. For the whole of May The Savoy’s sign will be bedecked with the official coronation crown, while the Lalique fountain will be decorated with flowers and limited-edition bottles of Nyetimber. For the coronation weekend (5-7 May), Nyetimber’s 1968 Routemaster Bus will be stationed on Savoy Court. And on the day of the coronation itself, the hotel will celebrate with The Savoy street party where long tables will stretch across the forecourt on the Strand.
20. Hotel Café Royal’s royal packages
Hotel Café Royal in London has partnered with Linda Hugo from tours agency Beyond Curated to offer two bespoke royal packages which are both available until 1 October.
The Crown Jewels Experience – The Tower by Night is available for guests staying in the Royal Suite and is priced at £12,995 per night. It includes:
- an overnight stay in the two-bedroom Royal Suite at Hotel Café Royal
- breakfast served in the Royal Suite
- travel to the Tower of London in chauffeur-driven limousine
- a tour of the Tower grounds by one of the Yeoman Warders
- a champagne reception and introduction to the Jewel House
- a private viewing of the Crown Jewels and Royal Collection
The King Charles III Experience, available to guests staying in any room or suite category, is priced from £2,625 per night and requires a two-night stay. The package includes:
- a chauffeur-driven tour (in the Queen Mother’s Daimler) of King Charles’ London, including Clarence House, St James’ Palace, Buckingham Palace and Guildhall Gallery
- a champagne afternoon tea in the historic Grill Room Est. 1865
- breakfast fit for a king, served in The Gallery
21. ‘A very royal occasion’ at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
Available from 1-31 May, guests can enjoy “a very royal occasion” at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel in London. Priced from £4,000 (inc VAT), the package includes:
- a stay in one of the hotel’s luxurious suites
- a regal welcome amenity fit for kings and queens
- “King’s Caviar” breakfast with Oscietra caviar and full English breakfast where guests may catch a glimpse of the Royal Horse Guards passing by or breakfast enjoyed in the privacy of their suite
- Two-Michelin-starred four-course “royal cooking” lunch or dinner for two at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
- a specially-curated Highgrove hamper filled with a selection of exquisite tea and preserves
- a 50ml bottle of Laphroaig whisky
22. An insider’s guide to Royal London with The Milestone Hotel
Another hotel to partner with Beyond Curated is The Milestone Hotel & Residences, located just a stone’s throw away from Kensington Palace and Gardens. Accompanied by a personal host and expert royal guide, guests will start their historic journey with a luxurious driving tour throughout the city of London, visiting the most iconic landmarks associated with all three King Charles’s. On the tour, guests will experience the best of London – from Clarence House and St James’s Palace to Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral – all with the option to ride in the Queen Mother’s Jaguar Daimler.
Rates start from £1,900 for the experience and take place from approximately 9am to 1pm, bookable throughout the year and subject to availability. Junior suites at The Milestone Hotel start from £850 per night on a bed and breakfast basis. Residences are available for luxury self-catering stays, with rates starting from £1,050 per night based on two guests sharing.
23. The Lanesborough coronation celebration package
Overlooking Hyde Park Corner, and adjacent to the grounds of Buckingham Palace, the elegant country house heritage of The Lanesborough will provide an inviting home-away-from-home experience to celebrate the royal occasion. The hotel’s special “coronation celebration” package is a decadent affair and includes:
- private transfer service from London Heathrow or from London St Pancras International
- dedicated 24-hour butler service
- a bottle of champagne and a special in-room coronation amenity
- complimentary daily English breakfast
- five-course celebration dinner at The Lanesborough Grill
The package starts from £1,212 per room, per night based on two sharing one deluxe room. Available between 2-12 May.
24. ‘Stay like a king’ at Strand Palace
Located along the Strand in London, this hotel is in a central position for the royal celebrations with The Mall and other iconic landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey within walking distance.
Strand Palace’s two-night “stay like a king” celebratory package includes accommodation in a deluxe king room, buffet breakfast, complimentary mini-bar and a bottle of champagne. Prices start from £845 for stays on 5 or 6 May 2023.
25. Who’s going to join the party?
London will be a magnet for overseas visitors over the coronation weekend. Online travel agent Opodo has crunched the royal numbers and revealed which nationalities are set to join the party. Comparing top searches and bookings for London over the weekend of 4-7 May 2023 to the same weekend in 2022, Opodo’s data found that there was a 121% increase in global searches, and searches from France have increased more than any other nationality – up by 354% year on year. French bookings for arrival in London airports was also the highest, up 204%, while Swedish booking rates jumped up 146%. Searches also boomed in Australia (266%) and Poland (326%).
More tourists than ever are visiting the royal residences and London-based tour operator Evan Evans has experienced a spike in visitors on guided tours that take in Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. “With the coronation coming up in May, the section of tours with a royal spin are set to be a popular choice for the coming year,” the tour operator said.
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