It’s a fascinating time to visit London: as the calendar turns over from 2022 to 2023, the United Kingdom is ruled by a new monarch first time in 70 years. Everyone’s a little uncertain what the future holds with King Charles III at the helm, but there’s one thing we know for certain: he needs to have a coronation before much else. And that’s a great opportunity to visit London, if you’re fascinated by the monarchy.
I write this post with some experience about being in London which Important Royal Things are happening. By complete chance – though I admittedly had a sense it might – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died on the first day we arrived in London for our trip in September 2022. This means I was in London for the Proclamation of King Charles, the procession of the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, and her lying-in-state in advance of her funeral.
This was obviously an unexpected part of our London itinerary – but also a series of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Yes, certain places were closed that I wanted to visit, like my favorite, St. Paul’s Cathedral. But I was also able to watch the figurative page turn in a chapter of British history, a book which I have long loved learning about and experiencing.
If you’d like to have a similar experience, you might wonder about planning a trip to London for King Charles III’s coronation in 2023. In this post, you’ll find all the details you need to plan such a trip: when and where King Charles III’s coronation will take place, how the public will be involved, and the steps you can take NOW to plan your trip.
When is the Coronation of King Charles III?
The last time the United Kingdom had a King Charles was in 1685!
As of October 11, 2022, the BBC reported that the coronation of King Charles III will take place on Saturday, May 6, 2023. A ceremony crowing Camila, the Queen Consort, will take place as part of the same ceremony.
Earlier that same week, the U.K. is already observing a Bank Holiday on Monday, May 1; it’s uncertain whether a second Bank Holiday will be announced later in the week or earlier the next.
The exact time and schedule for the day have not yet been announced, but I’ll update this post as soon as that information is made public.
Where is the Coronation of King Charles III?
As has been tradition for coronations over the last 950 years, King Charles III will be coronated at Westminster Abbey.
The first coronation at Westminster Abbey occurred in 1066, when Harold II was crowned as the last Anglo-Saxon king before William I – William the Conqueror – became the first Norman kind of England. Including those first two coronations and Elizabeth I’s coronation in 1952, there have been 38 coronations at Westminter Abbey. King Charles III’s coronation will be the 39th.
The ceremony will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby.
Can the Public Attend the Coronation Itself?
Unfortunately, as is the case for most state functions, the coronation of King Charles III at Wistminster Abbey will not be open to the public; instead, the event will be attended by important members of the British political system, foreign dignitaries, and members of the extensive royal family.
Additionally, King Charles has expressed a desire to have a “shorter, smaller and more diverse ceremony” than the opulence of past coronations, meaning there will be less spent on the event and public events surrounding it.
That said, there will undoubtedly be events for the public related to the coronation, including a procession that the public can view, and the coronation itself will be televised and streamed live for the world to watch.
Planning a London Trip for the Coronation
Okay, let’s get to the meat of it: if you want to plan a trip to London for King Charles III’s coronation, the time to start is NOW.
Here is some advice on arranging different parts of your trip.
If you want to fly to London to attend the pubilc Coronation celebrations in person, I recommend booking your flight soon; the general advice is that flights are cheapest roughly ~60 days before travel. So if you want to arrive in London a few days before the coronation on May 6, 2023 (to adjust to any jetlag), you should purchase your tickets no later than the first week of March.
Also, flight prices tend to go up the closer you get to departure, so you likely won’t snag any last-minute deals by waiting.
If you don’t want to purchase your tickets right now and do want to keep an eye on flights, I recommend setting up a flight price alert using KAYAK, my preferred airfare search tool.
It’s uncertain how many people are planning to travel to London to partake in public Coronation events, but it’s safe to say that it will probably be enough to increase hotel and other accommodation prices. Even if you don’t book your flights now, I strongly recommend researching hotels and booking one if you find a good deal.
I have a series of posts detailing budget-friendly hotels near major train stations, including Euston, King’s Cross, Victoria, and Waterloo; those are a good place to start your search. If you don’t find something that works for your dates and budget, try checking my complete guide on where to stay in London, which includes suggestions on different areas and hotels to book in each.
Other Trip Details
Lastly, you might want to arrange other parts of your trip in advance. Here are some tips, based on my experience being in London during the Queen’s death and mourning period:
- Identify any attractions you want to visit (such as the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, or Tower of London), and research whether they will have any closures during the week surrounding the Coronation. You may have to contact these places directly to inquire if they don’t have details on their websites yet. For example, the coronation objects from the Crown Jewels will obviously not be on display at the Tower of London during the days around the coronation since they play a role in the ceremony.
- Once you’ve identified other activities you want to do during your London itinerary, schedule everything in advance. And I really mean everything. If you can get timed addmission to tours, schedule them. If you want to eat at a particular restaurant, make a booking. Some three million people came to London to see Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1952 – just imagine how many more will be there in 2023 when travel is so much easier!
- Bookmark and occasionally check this page dedicated to news about King Charles III on the BBC. This is the best – and a reputable – source for news about the King, and his coronation.
These three tips will serve you well as you plan your trip; as we get closer to the date of the coronation, I’ll update this post with more advice on things like the procession route, seeing the procession, and other important info you need to have a great London trip for King Charles III’s coronation.
What other questions do you have about planning a trip to London for the Coronation of King Charles III? Let me know in the comments!