How to host the ultimate street party for the Coronation of Charles III and Camilla
What is surely one of this century’s most historic days is finally upon us. The coronation of KingCharles and Queen Camilla will make this new royal era official — and we become Caroleans (much better than being charlatons, after all). And a nation will all hail His Majesty; not just for the Royal malarkey, but for the bonus bank holiday on May 8.
And while thousands will descend on Westminster Abbey, flags aloft, and others line the procession route with canned wines and sausage rolls, the long weekend also offers the perfect chance for a street party. Buffets will be glorious, Champagne chilled, and there’s even official celebratory chinaware to lay on. At present, the skies are looking clear(ish) and the sun will be out (though rain is set to appear too). Up the bunting, paint the kids’ faces in red, white and blue, and grab your paper crowns. Here’s how to host the ultimate Coronation street party — as in the King, not the TV soap.
Decided to do a last minute shebang? Forget taking over the whole street but instead, move things to a garden or a driveway, as no permission is required for a party on private land so long as entrance is free, alcohol is not being sold and playing music isn’t the primary focus (breaching these rules requires a £21 temporary event notice). Or do what’s called a “street meet”, where everything is held on the pavements; it’s an easy get-around.
Dress the part
Not you, the street (although masks are an idea, so long as the Meghan ones are kept hidden away). As ever, preparation is key.
Decorations are easily done: red, white and blue bunting and all the better if it’s homemade. Paper chains and Coronation wreaths are also in favour this year. Josh Rom, the broadcaster and royal commentator, adds that besides Union flags, a nice touch is anything featuring the monarch’s coat of arms, as well as that of Camilla. His top tip? Make your own invitations mimicking the official one, which is all floral. As such, dressing the street in flowers won’t go amiss. Rom adds: “His Majesty is known for his love of the environment and conservationism, so it might be a good idea that all the decorations and resources for the party are environmentally friendly and made from sustainable materials. Floral decorations or floral style bunting is definitely in the spirit of things.”
Meanwhile, don’t forget the other basics: a decent speaker system, trestle tables, chairs, cutlery and glasses, and bin liners for tidying. If you’re falling short on things, Fat Llama (fatllama.com) is handy; it has everything from rental gazebos to PA systems. Likewise, there are eight Library of Things (libraryofthings.co.uk) across town. They’re good for practical things like stepladders (for bunting) and party kits.
The royals love a round or two of charades and the Queen Consort is a big fan of table tennis. Queen Elizabeth apparently loved “the name game”, which involves writing the name of a famous character on a sticky note and placing it on somebody else’s forehead for them to guess. No word if Charles is a fan, but given he’s likely played it all his life, it’s a good place to start. Monopoly is off the cards, though — it was reportedly banned in the royal household due to players becoming too vicious.
Feasts fit for a King
You’ve a choice to make here. You can go the traditional route — comically small sandwiches, lots of fairy cakes, sausages on sticks — or eat like Charlie himself (although not too closely, as he apparently never eats lunch). Rumours abound about the King’s diet — strange whisperings about linseed and so on — and it’s been reported that he eats a boiled egg with every meal, which (please God) must be nonsense. Still, if you’re starting early, eggs are the thing: his brunch staple is said to be "cheesy baked eggs", which sees eggs baked with double cream, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and strong English cheese. He’s also partial to oysters, but allegedly dislikes garlic, coffee, and chocolate.
Still, there are four official recipes for the coronation. The first is Ken Hom’s roast rack of lamb with an Asian-style marinade, with the meat dressed in herbs and spices, peanut butter and plenty of soy sauce. Hom says of it: "The recipe represents the hallmark of modern Great Britain." The chef recommends plating it up with roast potatoes and a green salad.
Nadiya Hussain, of Great British Bake Off fame, has the veggie billing, with a spiced aubergine dish taken from her cookbook Nadiya’s Fast Flavours. “Aubergines often feature as a side dish when served at a table for dinner, but not here,” she says. “We are taking this delicious aubergine, coating it with flavour, frying till tender and then drizzling over the simplest coronation dressing. It’s like dinner at my mum’s colliding with my lunches at school to create this beauty.”
There are also prawn tacos from Gregg Wallace, while for pudding, Scottish chef Adam Handling — who catered for the G7 summit in Cornwall in 2021 and so is no stranger to high tables — has created an official trifle of strawberry and ginger.
Otherwise, no royal event should take place without tea and cake. In fact, Josh Rom insists no official coronation should be without a Victoria sponge, a royal favourite. “The royal family love cake, and His Majesty is no exception,” Rom told the Standard. “Afternoon tea is a must.”
If the baking is best left to the pros, the Hummingbird Bakery (hummingbirdbakery.com) has everything from a themed biscuit bar at £4.50 to special hampers at £75, with cupcake decorating kits thrown in for good measure. Likewise, Lola’s Cupcakes (lolascupcakes.co.uk) is selling boxes of themed fairy cakes for just around £25. Both deliver across town.
Long a royal favourite, the Goring Hotel suggests a spread of British classics — think ham sandwiches, coronation chicken, fresh scones and King Charles’s beloved cream of lemon dessert. Keep on theme by using produce from Royal Warrant suppliers such as Dukeshill Ham (dukeshillham.co.uk), though Duchy Originals, the Waitrose brand of foods set up by Charles in 1990, might be a suitable option too.
Raise a toast
If an avalanche of boiled eggs is not the one, stick to the royal drinks. The family famously enjoy a bottle or two of Champagne but while the Queen granted seven Champagne houses a royal warrant during her lifetime, Charles has presently only one, given when he was Prince of Wales: Laurent-Perrier. Bottles are around £45 in supermarkets, but online can be found for nearer £35. That said, in the name of all things British, the weekend will be the perfect opportunity to celebrate English sparkling wine, a much-improved drink in recent years. Coolhurst, a Sussex-based producer, which usually makes a sparkling rosé called Lady Elizabeth (£42, coolhurstvineyards.com) and a commemorative vintage for His Majesty the King. Nyetimber, another of the country’s finest winemakers, is selling a new limited-edition themed bottle of Classic Cuvee MV (£39.50, nyetimber.com).
As for an aperitif, the King reportedly favours a gin martini — not bone dry but with the gin and dry vermouth in 50-50 measures. But for something a little different, bartenders at the Goring (15 Beeston Place, SW1, thegoring.com) recommend mixing up its new “garden negroni”, invented for the celebrations. For four, stir 160ml gin with 80ml sweet vermouth and 60ml Luxardo bitter bianco, then pour in 40ml Seedlip garden and 10ml Monin match syrup, and pour into tumblers with ice and garnish with a wedge of grapefruit.
Those less inclined to spend their weekend mixing drinks might take top bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana’s advice and make a classic punch first thing. “A punch is the old-school way of serving a group and works just as perfectly today,” says Chetiyawardana. “Just freeze an ice cream tub of water filled with herbs, fruits and flowers for a great visual that also keeps the drink crisp and not too watery.
“A celebration of local flavours is ideal as a mix: gin, Ribena, tea, lemon verbena and dry sparkling cider is a perfect shout. It works great with snacks so lay out some Hula Hoops and Scotch eggs in true British fashion”.
Quite right. Pip, pip, and time to party.
By Mike Daw
What party would be complete without music?
If the pressure of playing DJ for the day is too much, we’ve got you covered with a few classics — and favourites of the King himself. Do bear in mind though that sound systems will need to be turned right down before the 11pm curfew.
Lionel Richie — Dancing on the Ceiling
Lionel Richie is set to perform at the official Coronation concert, and his greatest party track is sure to feature.
Katy Perry — Roar
The American is also due on the official bill, so put on this rousing banger and belt along.
The Beatles — Here Comes the Sun
Seemingly written with springtime in mind, the perfect Beatles tune to hum along to whilst wolfing down finger sandwiches.
Neil Diamond — Sweet Caroline
Quite possibly Britain’s back-up national anthem, you won’t go wrong with this crowd-pleaser.
Diana Ross — Upside Down
Rumoured to be one of the King’s favourite tracks, this is a soul classic from 1980.
Elton John — Tiny Dancer
While Sir Elton reportedly declined to perform, this hit deserves a spot on your playlist.
Sam Ryder — Space Man
One of the most-streamed British tracks of 2022 the sensational song is sure to keep the party going.
Andrea Bocelli and Sir Bryn Terfel — The Pearl Fishers duet
With the opera singers set to appear at the concert together, be sure to have their most famous duet turned up.
Handel — Zadok the priest
Just in case you miss the choir in Westminster Abbey, this rousing song will get the patriotic blood pumping.
Spice Girls — Wannabe
While the Spice Girls apparently declined to perform for the King, the Nineties classic is a must.
Edith Piaf — La Vie En Rose
Another track said to be among the King’s favourites, this 1947 song is as nostalgic as it is beautiful.
Take That — Relight My Fire
So you’re fit to burst thanks to scones, cucumber sandwiches and fizz — what better time to belt out Robbie, Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason? Especially given they’re also performing at Windsor Castle.