Discover the secrets to navigating London like a local.
21st April 2023
Heading to London this spring? If your trip coincides with the first weekend in May, you will be in the UK capital as history is made – as King Charles is officially crowned King Charles III! London will be buzzing with excitement and celebration as people from all walks of life flock to the city to try and catch a glimpse of the royal family. Whether you have planned your trip to witness an unforgettable moment in history, or you have just got lucky with your travel plans, read on, as we have compiled the ultimate guide for navigating London throughout the coronation season and give you some inspiration on some unique things to do in the capital!
If you don’t hail from the UK, you may be unfamiliar with the concept of a Coronation. Essentially a coronation is the official ceremony that marks Charles as the head of state and King Charles III. This is a huge deal for the UK and not something that is to be missed, as it is the first coronation that has been celebrated in 70 years! The previous Coronation was when Queen Elizabeth was crowned on June 2, 1953.
The coronation will officially kick off on May 6th with King Charles and the Queen Consort Camilla travelling in a golden stagecoach to Westminster Abbey for the ceremony. Unfortunately, Westminster Abbey will not be open to the public throughout the duration of the ceremony, however live coverage of ceremony will be broadcasted across major UK channels! It’s possible to view the entire Coronation from one of the many big screens dotted about the city on the day.
The coronation ceremony will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will crown Charles, King of England by placing a solid gold 17th century St. Edward’s Crown on Charles’ head and hand him some of the most precious items in the royal collection – such as the Crown Jewels!
After the ceremony, the King and Queen Consort, will be joined by the Royal Family to celebrate the reign of King Charles III by waving at well-wishers from the balcony of Buckingham Palace!
With such a large, historic event, public transport in the capital will no doubt be disrupted. For this reason, we recommend that you factor in extra time for any travelling that you will be doing around the city. If you can, we recommend that you opt for walking, cycling or using the underground whenever possible, as this should cause less disruptions in your journeys.
One of the best ways to travel around London is via the London Underground, or the tube as it more commonly referred to. The tube is one of the quickest and easiest modes of transport to get from A to B in the capital. The best and easiest way to do this is to buy a Visitor Oyster card (which you can buy before you travel and have it sent to your home address) or you can also use a Travelcard or contactless payments.
Often with large royal events, stations such as Hyde Park Corner, St James’s Park, Green Park, Charing Cross and Westminster become overly populated. As a result, factor in time for possible disruptions at these stations. You can also access live updates about the status of your journey through TFL as well as a free map of the city's underground and other travel routes via London Travel information centres. These are located at Victoria, Piccadilly Circus, King's Cross & St Pancras stations.
Seeing as it’s a special celebration, we recommend you spend some time soaking up the royal atmosphere. Whether you are trying to catch a glimpse of the King in the golden stagecoach or practising your royal wave for Buckingham Palace, London will be filled with regal celebrations and activities to signify this momentous time in history.
It’s also a great time to visit one of London's many royal attractions, whether it’s Kensington Palace, the Tower of London, the Household Cavalry Museum and the gardens of Hampton Court Palace (the palace itself won’t be open).
Enjoy a very English afternoon tea. Goring Hotel plans to serve a coronation-themed tea with coronation chicken sandwiches, scones decorated with the King’s profile, and royal-themed pastries. The Rubens at the Palace is offering a choice of two afternoon teas for the occasion.
If you don’t fancy eating in, then eat out – by having a traditional picnic in one of the many London parks. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are probably your best bet, as these shouldn’t be too crowded. Grab a bottle of prosecco and finger foods from a deli, or order a hamper and picnic like a royal. Just remember to bring a picnic blanket or something to sit on to get the authentic British picnic pictures!
If you’re a little confused about the history and significance of the coronation celebrations, then the Coronation Exhibition at the Chapter House in Westminster Abbey is the perfect place to learn more. You’ll have to pay to enter the Abbey, but the exhibition is completely free. The exhibition is open until April 25, however, will be closed for the coronation. The exhibition will reopen to the public on May 8 and is set to run until the summer.
Want to live like royalty? Book a room at Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair. The hotel is often referred to as ‘the annexe of Buckingham Palace’ (such is its association with the royal family); no surprise then to learn that it is arranging Coronation Archive Windows on the ground floor. Some of the highlights of this exhibition include pages from Queen Victoria’s diary and menus created for King George VI’s coronation in 1937 by the hotel itself.
A more budget-friendly hotel is St Ermin’s in Caxton Street, Westminster. It’s ideal for the royal weekend since it’s only an eight-minute walk from Buckingham Palace and not far from Westminster Abbey. The atmosphere both in the hotel and the streets outside will be electric too.
A mid-range hotel situated just 12 minutes from Buckingham Palace, and overlooking Hyde Park, is the Como Metropolitan London. Set on upmarket Park Lane, it has a spa, complete with therapists on hand, to relax after your busy day of royal watching. The restaurant Nobu is on the second floor of the building, so you don’t even have to leave the hotel for dinner later in the evening.
Visiting London over the Coronation weekend? Stansted Express has you covered ensuring hassle free transfers to Stansted Airport with tickets starting from just £9.70. What’s the wait? Book your tickets and explore the wonders of the Coronation.