May 01 2023
Coronations are rare and special historic moments, filled with royal pageantry. The processions to and from Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey are an important part of the coronation, giving the public the chance to see and celebrate their newly crowned monarch. Spectators line the royal route, waving flags, cheering and hoping to catch a glimpse of Their Majesties in the beautiful golden coach.
The first of the two coronation processions for King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla is known as the King’s Procession. The 1.3-mile route for the coronation of King Charles III goes from Buckingham Palace’s Centre Gate to Westminster Abbey. Their Majesties sit in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, accompanied by the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry.
The coach was created to mark the 60-year reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II, and it’s the newest coach in the Royal Mews. It’s also a smoother ride compared to the Gold State Coach, used for the return procession. King Charles clearly paid attention when his mother described her Gold State Coach rides for the coronation as “horrible!”
The Coronation Procession
This return journey of the newly crowned King and Queen is the Coronation Procession. This time the King and Queen are inside the beautiful (but bumpy) Gold State Coach pulled by eight Windsor Grey horses.
In 1953, the Coronation Procession took Queen Elizabeth II on a longer five-mile return route around London, but King Charles decided the 2023 return route would follow the same route as the outbound trip, both for practical reasons and to reflect modern times.
Traditionally, other members of the Royal Family join the Coronation Procession along with members of the Armed Forces from across the Commonwealth and the British Overseas Territories. After the Gold State Coach disappears, the crowds along The Mall wait for the Royal Family to appear and wave on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
When you visit London and it’s not a royal occasion, you can walk the Coronation Procession route (on the pavements though and without your own cheering crowds). It’s an easy walk, taking in lots of iconic London sights. Go from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade, visit Trafalgar Square then go to the Imperial War Museum, see the Houses of Parliament and finish your day at the magnificent Westminster Abbey.
This is the 1.3 mile (2.1km) walkable procession route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey:
Head from the gates of Buckingham Palace down The Mall
Turn right at St James’ Park
Go through Admiralty Arch (you’ll see Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in front of you)
Head to the Horse Guards Parade, down Whitehall and along Parliament Street
Go around Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary
Arrive at Westminster Abbey
After your royal procession walk, rest easy a few steps away with a night at Thistle Trafalgar Square Hotel or Thistle Piccadilly. Both these central London hotels are a walk away (or an even shorter golden carriage ride) from Westminster Abbey.
Find out more about royal occasions at Westminster Abbey here.