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Coronation flypast: What is the route?

The Colorful Arrows RAF displays aircraft during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee flypast in London, UK
The Red Arrows put on a display during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee flypast last year. (Alamy)

A final decision over the flypast to celebrate King Charles’s coronation will be taken at the last minute amid concerns about bad weather.

Following the historic service at Westminster Abbey, the newly crowned King and Queen Camilla have returned to Buckingham Palace.

Charles will next join his family on the balcony to - hopefully - watch the aerial display take place, at around 2.15pm.

The route for the flypast will cover parts of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex as the jets make their way to London.

As the planes head out of the capital, they will travel over parts of Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

However, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has warned the flypast could be scaled back – or cancelled altogether – if the weather is bad on safety grounds, saying: "If suitable, the flypast will continue as planned. If not, then there are options available to reduce the number of aircraft, with cancellation being the last resort."

The crowd gathers along the Mall in London, the United Kingdom during the Flypast for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebration on June 2, 2022. (Photo by Alexander Mak/NurPhoto)
Crowds will gather along the Mall in London to see the flypast, just like they did in June 2022 for the flypast in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. (PA)

The air marshal in charge of giving the go-ahead for the operation said earlier this week there was a "50/50" chance it will go ahead.

One Red Arrows pilot speaking from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire on the day of the coronation explained the cloud base needed to be above 1,000ft.

“Right now the forecast is on those limits,” he told ITV News. “We’ll make those weather calls right up until the point we’re due to be over the top of the palace. We’ll leave the decision right until the last minute.”

If it does go ahead but you can’t make it to London, there are still places where you have the opportunity to see the planes.

What is the route?

While the exact timings and routes are not publicly revealed, the flypast route has been split around the counties where it can be seen, with a general time zone to help people spot it.

The areas are:

  • Area A: North Sea and Norfolk Coast, 1.15pm-3pm

  • Area B: Norfolk (Thetford) and Suffolk (Bury St Edmunds), 1.45pm-3pm

  • Area C: Suffolk (Ipswich), 2pm-3pm

  • Area D: Essex (Colchester, Chelmsford), 2pm-2.45pm

  • Area E: London, 2.10pm-2.45pm

  • Area F: London (Croydon) and Surrey, 2.20pm-3pm

  • Area G: Berkshire (Reading), Wiltshire (Swindon) and Oxfordshire (Oxford), 2.20pm-3pm

  • Area H: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, 2.20pm-3pm

  • Area I: Wiltshire (Marlborough, Tidworth), 2.20pm-3pm

Britain's King Charles III speaks with guests, during a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, London, Wednesday, May 3, 2023, in celebration of the coronation on May 6. (Yui Mok/Pool via AP)
King Charles, pictured speaking with guests at Buckingham Palace, is preparing for his coronation on Saturday. (PA)

What aircraft are taking part?

More than 60 aircraft from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force – including the Red Arrows – will fly over The Mall.

The full flypast will also include the full Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

The first aircraft to fly over Buckingham Palace will be a Juno HT1 helicopter from RAF Shawbury, which will be piloted by flight lieutenant Tom Knapp.

Are there any flight restrictions?

Flight restrictions affecting light aircraft and drones will be imposed above central London on Friday and Saturday.

Transport secretary Mark Harper has banned aircraft from flying below 2,500 feet in an area which includes Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey “on advice from the Metropolitan Police Service”, according to a notice to pilots published online.

However, the restrictions will not have an impact on commercial flights.

That is in contrast with the day of the late Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, when more than 100 Heathrow Airport flights were cancelled to prevent aircraft noise from disturbing proceedings at Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle.

The rules will be in place from 9am on Friday until 9pm on Saturday.