Coronation weekend: What’s on in London and how to celebrate
May 6 marks a moment in British history that will be unfamiliar to a great many: the coronation of a monarch.
His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen Consort will be crowned that day in Westminster Abbey, in a ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But while this itself is a formal occasion, marked by centuries-old traditions, the day and the two following are set to be full of celebration. Expect much pageantry; horses in hats, countless flags, the national anthem on repeat, television presenters filling time with obscure oddities. There will be queues and old cars, shots of the Mall, cannons. Old rock stars and a few soap stars floating about. It will be British, in other words.
The upshot of it all is that there will be an extra bank holiday this year; another three day weekend, and one likely to be marked by a general sense of fun, and perhaps a few commemorative plates. At the very least, there will be some special menus and parties. Here’s a rundown of what to expect, where the big events will be and what you can expect.
Need to know
The coronation itself takes place on Saturday May 6; timings are still to be revealed but it’s likely to get underway in the morning with a procession around London. The ceremony then begins with the recognition — at which time the congregation will chant “God save the King” — the oath, the anointing, the investiture (the bit with the Orb and the Sceptre) and finally the enthronement. There will be a smaller, similar ceremony for the new Queen consort, followed by music, choral recitals and bell-ringing.
All of this is likely to take a few hours and whilst the procession route is not completely finalised, central London is likely to be extremely busy, if not almost entirely shut.
The day before though, pubs across England and Wales will be staying open later, with licensed hours extended until 1am on both the Friday and Saturday. Maybe try one of the best Spoons in Zone One?
According to the coronation.gov website, there are currently street parties or private parties planned during the coronation weekend in Richmond, Westminster, Camden and Hackney. As these are listed as potentially private parties, details are currently scant, however there is a Friends of Regents Park Coronation Lunch on May 7 which is available to book.
In Windsor, there is a special celebration on the Sunday. A large coronation concert is due to take place, produced by the BBC. Expect lots of inoffensive pop, choirs and a laser show; while planning has been, er, a tad difficult, it’s thought Ed Sheeran, Lionel Richie and the Spice Girlswill perform in the end. Here in London though, there are a number of events taking place across the city.
Mayfair and St James have a special relationship with Buckingham Palace, as all good neighbours do, and so perhaps it’s unsurprising that around this central London neighbourhood there is a lot going on.
Grosvenor Square (W1, mayfairldn.com) will be host to a not-so-secret garden party, transforming the space into what they describe as “an urban garden wonderland” with ‘”world class entertainment and dining.” Any line-up is yet to be announced but there will be plenty of Champagne, cocktails and “royal-themed immersive experiences”, which sounds only faintly threatening. Elsewhere, Mayfair’s finest hotels are getting in on the action. The Ritz (W1, theritzlondon.com) has put together a typically lavish ball on the Saturday, featuring a Champagne reception, five-course dinner and entertainment from the 19-piece BBC Big Band and swing-inspired group Elle & The Pocket Belles. The usual dinner and dance, this is not: tickets to this coronation ball are £1,250 each. The BBC Big Band is very good, on the other hand.
For a more historic celebration, the Claridge’s (W1, claridges.co.uk) resident archivist will unveil a special display to mark the celebration of 200 years of the hotel’s connection to royal coronations. The range of exhibits will include pages from Queen Victoria’s diary, alongside special menus and cocktail cards created for the coronations of both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. There will also be a special cocktail menu for the week of the coronation, available in the Painters Room bar, as well as a new colour portrait of Charles III, commissioned by artist in residence David Downton.
Another royal favourite the Goring (SW1, thegoring.com) will be hosting a special afternoon tea, as well as a bespoke tasting menu full of Welsh-sourced ingredients, celebrating the Kings position as the former Prince of Wales.
Elsewhere, the historic Café Royal (W1,hotelcaferoyal.com) has created a series of packages for their hotel guests. From arranging a viewing of the crown jewels at dusk to the full King Charles III package (which includes a chauffeur driven tour of London in the late Queen Mothers Daimler, Champagne afternoon tea and an overnight stay), the hotel is living up to its royal moniker.
But to end where we began: Westminster Abbey (SW1, westminster-abbey.org) is hosting an afternoon tea inspired by Charles from March 23 until July 31, although granted, not close to the coronation itself (there is a break in service between April 24 and May 8. A classic tea served in the Abbey’s Cellarium, the dishes promise to reflect the King’s “passion for sustainability with British ingredients.” At around £35 a head, this is certainly one of the more affordable ways to celebrate the coronation.
This guide will be updated as more menus and events are announced