Last Updated on May 1, 2023
It’s been 70 years since the United Kingdom has witnessed a coronation. That changes when King Charles III ascends to the throne on May 6, 2023. King Charles’ Coronation has London decked out to the nines.
London in the spring has a refreshing appeal anyway. As the flowers bloom, it means I can return my heavy coat back to the closet. Longer hours of daylight beg me to stay outside just a tad longer. Throw in the pageantry of King Charles’ coronation and London is buzzing.
May 6, 2023 begins a new era for the United Kingdom with King Charles’ coronation after Queen Elizabeth’s death. I adored the Queen, and as a result, I readily admit to being less than excited about all the coronation festivities. However, I feel as if this is part of history.
I journeyed around London to check out the coronation sites and displays.
London Coronation Sites
London, as the capital of the United Kingdom and home to its monarchy, is unmatched in pageantry when it comes to royal events and occasions.
To help me get into a celebratory mood, I took a bus down Oxford Street, where Union Jack flags line the streets. For the best view, I was fortunate to be seated in the front of the top level of the double-decker for an up-close and ringside view of the festive atmosphere.
Next, it was a stop at Covent Garden where Union Jack bunting lining the markets creates an electric and patriotic flare you can’t help but take your camera out for.
Already in a more celebratory mood, I made my way to Westminster Abbey, the actual site of the coronation ceremony. Westminster Abbey has held 39 coronations since 1066, and King Charles will be its 40th.
Every coronation ceremony has followed the same order of service with entry to the church, the oath, the anointing, the investiture, and lastly, the crowning. Abbey conservationists took great care to preserve the coronation chair, which was requested to be built by Edward I in 1300. This historic royal chair has survived much, including graffiti from visitors and naughty Westminster schoolboys.
As I passed the Abbey, I could not help, but think as an American living and working in London, that it boggled my mind that so much history and tradition could be in one place.
After Westminster Abbey, I headed to Buckingham Palace. The palace is a working residence where the monarchs tend to stay during the work week before leaving to spend weekends at Windsor Castle or their other palace residences.
Barriers were up and roads were closed near Buckingham Palace and along The Mall, the tree-lined royal road leading from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. I was able to retrace the procession route the King will follow after his coronation ceremony.
Along The Mall, flag poles line the streets with the Union Jack flag proudly representing the United Kingdom along with the Commonwealth flags.
At The Mall’s entry, banners with messages reflecting happiness and glory add to the celebratory atmosphere. Media tents and bleachers built along the side of Buckingham Palace stand ready to support the world’s media.
It’s striking to see this area empty knowing thousands will line the streets in just a few days, hoping to catch a glimpse of the newly crowned King.
After exploring the coronation ceremony sites, I continued my happy London wandering from Mayfair to Belgravia.
Mayfair is hosting a royal coronation party and has set up some charming displays around the area. My favorite was a collection of post boxes on a beautiful street corner. Once the new monarch reigns, all lampposts and post boxes will change their insignia. The current boxes on display pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.
I’ve taken pictures many of the Queen Elizabeth insignias around the city knowing this will soon be changing.
A theatre called Her Majesty’s Theatre has already updated its signage to “His Majesty’s.” I enjoyed exploring the streets of Mayfair as the red brick buildings and green parks are quintessentially London.
Feeling a bit peckish, I stopped at a street vendor for a crepe before continuing on. The coronation party installations in Mayfair were within a couple of blocks of the Union Jack Flags on Oxford Street, so it was a lovely moment to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy my snack.
Next, heading to Belgravia by bus, I passed Sloane Square, one of the most picturesque squares in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The square was abuzz and festive with bunting, fairy lights, and vendors serving drinks and snacks.
Along King’s Road and Royal Avenue, I discovered a coronation display showcasing the royal crest featuring a lion and unicorn and the coronation emblem. The floral display, created by the renowned ‘All for Love London’ florist, is truly majestic and will be perfect for the coronation celebrations soon to take place in the royal borough of Chelsea.
The Chelsea celebration will include a parade of 100 King Charles Cavalier Spaniels and a giant feasting table so participants can be part of the UK’s Big Lunch festivities. This is an initiative to invite neighbors and communities to come together celebrate the coronation.
Watching Charles’ Coronation in London
Although many Londoners like me may be leaving town to avoid the crush of King Charles’ coronation spectacle, many planned parties and celebrations will still occur throughout the city. Large screens for viewing will be available at Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James Park, the best option for enjoying a picnic while watching the festivities.
The streets along The Mall and near Buckingham Palace will be crowded, with some people camping out days before the historic event. I will however, like the rest of the world, be watching the coronation on the big screen as it happens.
As an American, this is a spectacle that fascinates us because we are not a monarchy. But it’s pomp and circumstance are simply breathtaking.
I so loved strolling around London to see the sites where the coronation will take place, along with the vibrant displays around town. It is a new era for the United Kingdom, which creates a sense of trepidation, but tradition still abounds.
And there is also great hope for the future.
Meanwhile, London is showing its best side as it prepares for this historic occasion – King Charles’ coronation.