Procession route for King Charles III coronation to be far shorter than in 1953
Return from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace will be more direct than five-mile journey of Queen Elizabeth II
un 9 Apr 2023 17.30 EDT
King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, will arrive at Westminster Abbey for the coronation on 6 May in the sovereign’s newest state carriage, and depart it in the oldest, during a day of celebrations that will see a procession route far shorter than that of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation, it has been revealed.
The king and queen consort will leave Buckingham Palace in the diamond jubilee state coach, built to celebrate the late queen’s 60th anniversary on the throne in 2012. They will depart, as King Charles III and Queen Camilla, in the 260-year-old gold state coach, which has been used in every coronation since William IV’s in 1831.
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In keeping with the king’s wish for a smaller-scale ceremony, the 1.3-mile (2.1km) procession will be much shorter than that staged for the coronation of his mother, who travelled in the gold state coach on both journeys; her outward route to the abbey being 1.6 miles in length, and the return about 5 miles, taking in Haymarket, Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, Oxford Street and East Carriage Drive in Hyde Park.
The king and queen consort will instead travel to the abbey in the king’s procession along the Mall, through Admiralty Arch and along the south side of Trafalgar Square, down Whitehall and along Parliament Street. The procession will then travel around the east and south sides of Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary to arrive at Westminster Abbey, where the coronation service will begin at 11am. The decision is said to be based on practical reasons, being a familiar royal route.
Once crowned, the couple will return to Buckingham Palace along the same route. The second procession will be on a far grander and larger scale, and comprise thousands of members of the armed services from the UK, Commonwealth and British Overseas Territories who will be marching and lining the route, along with the Sovereign’s Bodyguard and Royal Watermen.
Details of the route were revealed as Buckingham Palace also unveiled a new emoji, of the St Edward’s crown, to mark the coronation weekend.
On the day, the public will get a first glimpse of the king and queen consort as they leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey in the diamond jubilee state coach, drawn by six Windsor grey horses, and accompanied by the sovereign’s escort of the Household Cavalry.
The coach is topped with a gilded crown carved from oak from HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Its interior is inlaid with samples of wood, metals and other materials from buildings and places with specific connections to Britain and its history, including Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, as well as historic ships, such as the Mary Rose.
After the coronation service, the new king and queen will depart Westminster Abbey for Buckingham Palace in the gold state coach. Last seen during the pageant of the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2022, it was commissioned in 1760 and first used by King George III, to travel to the state opening of parliament in 1762.
The gold state coach passes in front of Buckingham Palace during the platinum jubilee pageant for Queen Elizabeth II last June. Photograph: Hannah McKay/PA It will be drawn by eight Windsor greys and, due to its weight of four tonnes, will travel at walking pace. Said to creak like an “old galleon” as it rolls along, it runs a lot smoother than it used to, according to the man in charge of its care. Martin Oates, senior carriage restorer at the Royal Mews, will walk behind the carriage in the coronation procession and act as the “brake man”, pulling the hand-held T-bar at the back to secure it in place when it stops. “When you’re following it, you can hear it creaking, so it sounds like an old galleon going along,” he said. “It’s not quite a washing machine, but where other vehicles just go from back to front, this is moving from side to side.” Queen Elizabeth II once described her journey to and from her coronation in the uncomfortably bumpy gold state coach as “horrible”, while Queen Victoria complained of its “distressing oscillation”. On their return to Buckingham Palace, the king and queen will receive a royal salute from the UK and Commonwealth armed forces on parade that day. They will take the salute from the west terrace of the Buckingham Palace garden. It will be followed by three cheers from the assembled service personnel for the new king and queen.