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April 14, 2023

How will the Coronation affect London?

Will London come to a standstill? No, but planning ahead is advised for travel.

By Silvia Pellegrino

The first weekend of May will see one of the most significant events in modern UK history take place: the Coronation of King Charles III. Also known by the code name Operation Golden Orb, the coronation proceedings will take place in London with celebrations around the country

The Coronation will see several closures around central London over the bank holiday weekend. (Photo by Nigel J. Harris/Shutterstock)

The ceremony will be inspired by tradition and characterised by lavish details. Since it falls on a Saturday, 6 May, the government decided to make the following Monday, 8 May, a bank holiday. But what will the day itself entail for Londoners?

When is the Coronation?

Even though the celebrations will be spread over a long weekend, the actual Coronation service will happen on Saturday 6 May 2023 at 11am, at Westminster Abbey.

The main event will be accompanied by other celebrations, such as a concert at Windsor Castle, alongside street parties and a procession. The latter, called The King’s Procession, will culminate with the King and Queen Consort arriving at Westminster Abbey, after starting from Buckingham Palace

King Charles’s Coronation will still be rooted in traditions and pageantry, but it will also represent a new era that will look more to the future. For instance, following the King’s instructions, this year’s event will honour and represent different faiths and groups, to reflect Britain’s ethnic diversity. 

The King will still promise to be a Defender of the Faith during the oath, but extra pledges will be added to acknowledge all religions. Another novelty will be the music since King Charles has explicitly asked for Greek Orthodox music to be played by the Byzantine Chant Ensemble in the service to remember the late Duke of Edinburgh.

The rest of the steps in the service, on the other hand, will remain the same. The anointing with consecrated oil, for example, was also seen in the Late Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation. 

Is the Coronation a bank holiday?

In November 2022, the UK government announced that the Monday that follows the Coronation, 8 May 2023, will be a bank holiday. 

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“The Coronation of a new monarch is a unique moment for our country. In recognition of this historic occasion, I am pleased to announce an additional bank holiday for the whole United Kingdom next year,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden added: “This bank holiday will once again give people across the United Kingdom the opportunity to come together as families and communities to welcome His Majesty to the throne as we mark this important day in our nation’s long history.”

Will the coronation close London shops?

While businesses did close for the Queen’s funeral, they are not obliged to do so for the King’s Coronation. However, many shops will close to celebrate the event. On the other hand, sectors like hospitality will likely remain open and will be busier than usual. 

Pubs in particular, alongside bars and clubs, will also extend their working hours for the weekend from 11pm to 1am from Friday 5 May to Sunday 7 May. 

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, explained: “His Majesty The King’s Coronation will be a momentous occasion deserving of special celebration. That is why I am extending the licensing hours over this historic coronation weekend. Up and down the country, people can enjoy an extra pint or two in the evening while families and friends can come together to wish His Majesty The King a long and happy reign.”

This means that restaurants and pubs are not obliged to close, and many of them will stay open to give people the chance to celebrate for longer. The retail sector too will keep going as usual, and individual closures will be at the owners’ discretion. 

Will London travel be affected by the coronation?

During the bank holiday weekend in honour of King Charles III’s Coronation, travel in London will be partially affected.

While TfL assured all commuters that all public transport networks will be running with no planned closures on Saturday 6 May, there will still be some changes to bus service routes and times, especially in central London. “You will be able to get to where you need to go. Plan ahead, allow more time for your journey and use our travel tools to see how services are operating,” the website suggests.

However, in support of Coronation events, there will be some temporary changes to Cycleway 3 around Buckingham Palace and Constitution Hill.

When it comes to road closures, the areas surrounding central London will be heavily affected by both closures and parking suspensions on 5 and 6 May. In addition, pedestrian restrictions will also be put into place around Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.

[Read more: Industrial strike action continues across the UK]

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