Save the date: King Charles III’s coronation is May 6, and there hasn’t been a royal coronation since Queen Elizabeth’s in 1953. Coronations happen only as frequently as a new monarch is crowned and willing to partake in the ceremony—so here’s everything you need to know about the three-day royal affair.
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King Charles’ face will appear on the £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes starting in May 2024.
When will Charles be crowned?
The event begins on Saturday, May 6, which is when King Charles’ coronation ceremony occurs. However, the celebration continues throughout the weekend and into Monday, May 8.
Day one: The King’s Procession, coronation & Coronation Procession
The King’s Procession begins King Charles’ coronation process. Charles and Queen Consort Camilla travel from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey—a journey of just under a mile.
Once at Westminster, the Archbishop of Canterbury will lead King Charles III’s coronation ceremony, which begins with “the recognition.” King Charles will stand next to the Coronation Chair—the oldest piece of furniture in the UK still used for its original purpose—while his peers chant “God save the King!” See the Coronation Chair for yourself when visiting Westminster Abbey on one of our London tours.
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Coronations are strictly ceremonial and not necessary to legally recognize a new monarch. Charles became king the moment his mother passed.
Next, King Charles will recite an oath promising to uphold lawful, moral, and religious righteousness. Then, he’ll sit in the Coronation Chair and get anointed with the coronation oil—which is consecrated in Jerusalem and made of olive oil, orange blossom, rose, jasmine, and various other herbs and spices.
The new king will then be presented with items symbolic of the balance of his rule: the Sceptre for power, the Sovereign’s Orb for religious morality, and the Sovereign’s Sceptre to uphold justice and mercy. The final item bestowed on Charles will be St Edward’s Crown. The Queen Consort will don Queen Mary’s Crown, which was modified to include three of Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite diamonds. Their crowns match with white ermine bands and purple velvet tops featuring arches, fleur-de-lis, and cross pattées. While Queen Mary’s Crown is adorned with diamonds, St Edward’s Crown shimmers with a variety of stones including sapphires, rubies, and amethysts. See both crowns, and the rest of the Crown Jewels, at the Tower of London on our London, Paris & Rome tour.
Finally, King Charles will rise from the Coronation Chair and proceed to his throne, as his subjects kneel in his honor. The Queen Consort Camilla will have the same coronation process after her husband.
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A consort is someone who is married to a royal with no actual power. Charles plans to drop this from Camilla’s title—a controversial, symbolic gesture.
Once the ceremony is complete, King Charles and the Queen Consort Camilla will take part in the The Coronation Procession, leaving Westminster Abbey and returning to Buckingham Palace. There, the royal family will appear on a balcony to greet the public as newly coronated monarchs. (We’re excited to see which of the other royals will wave alongside Charles and Camilla.)
Then, it’s time for everyone across the UK to rest up for another day of celebration!
Day two: a national party
King Charles’ coronation date is May 6, but the party lasts until Monday, May 8. The second day of celebration, May 7, is called The Big Lunch and is full of festivities, featuring a nationwide sharing of food, tea, and laughs. The royal family will also host a star-studded concert featuring a world-class orchestra, pop culture icons, composer extraordinaire Andrew Lloyd Weber (who even penned a song for the occasion), the Coronation Choir—and did we mention the laser light show? This will all happen at Windsor Castle.
Day three: the Big Help Out
The third day of the royal coronation, called the Big Help Out, is focused on volunteer work. Monday, May 8, is a bank holiday, so citizens can dedicate their time and energy to give back to their communities.
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How do I enjoy the coronation festivities?
The lucky travelers already booked on the May 4 departures of our London, Paris & Amsterdam tour and London, Normandy & Paris tour will be on British soil in time for King Charles’ coronation. If you can’t make the coronation of Charles in person, you can watch the event on BBC.
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A diverse community of singers from deaf, LGBTQIA+, refugee, and other choirs make up the Coronation Choir.
What places used for the coronation of Charles can I visit in London?
Whether or not you’ll be in the UK for the coronation of King Charles, you can visit the historical landmarks at the center of the occasion on any of our London tours.
While the king and queen live in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle is a place of refuge for the royal family. The castle also welcomes outside visitors to admire its gorgeous artwork, royal artifacts like Queen Charlotte’s tortoise shell notebook, and sprawling green grounds.
Book an excursion to Windsor Castle on one of our London tours to see the world’s largest and longest-inhabited castle. You’ll then have time to stroll through the town of Windsor and have a look at Eton College, a prestigious prep school attended by Princes William and Harry.
Due to King Charles III’s coronation, Westminster Abbey will be closed for regular service from April 25 until May 8. Tourists and worshippers alike who want to see Westminster Abbey will need to pay a visit well before or just after the coronation of King Charles.
Westminster Abbey is an active house of worship for Christians. It’s also the burial ground for seventeen monarchs and was the venue for sixteen royal weddings, most recently that of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.
Pro tip: Westminster Abbey has strict photography rules against tripods, selfie sticks, and photography during services.
Visit Buckingham Palace for the coronation of Charles and you’ll get to see more than the Changing of the Guard. If you’re at the home of Charles and Camilla, you’ll have a chance to see them proceeding to and from Westminster Abbey—and maybe even waving from the palace balcony!
No matter when you visit London this year, you’ll get to absorb the buzzing energy of a new monarchical reign and the next chapter in British history.