Charles and Camilla to break with tradition for coronation journey to Westminster Abbey
Glittering ceremonial celebrations for the King’s coronation have been unveiled, detailing the procession route, the carriages and the priceless Crown Jewels chosen to play a starring role.
King Charles and the Queen Consort will travel in a shorter procession route than the late Elizabeth II and will break with tradition by only using the elaborate 260-year-old Gold State Coach one way – on their return.
The monarch and Camilla have personally decided to make the 2km (1.3 miles) outward journey – known as the King’s Procession – from Buckingham Palace in the more modern, comfortable Diamond Jubilee State Coach, which has shock absorbers, heating and air conditioning.
They will travel, accompanied by The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, down The Mall via Admiralty Arch, along the south side of Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall and Parliament Street, around the east and south sides of Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary to arrive at the Abbey.
The coronation service on 6 May will begin at 11am.
The late Queen rode both ways in the Gold State Coach for her 1953 coronation, famously describing the bumpy experience in the carriage, which is suspended on leather straps, as “horrible”.
Her outward procession was 2.6km (1.6 miles) long but her return procession was 8km (5 miles), taking her down Piccadilly, along Oxford Street and Regent Street and Haymarket.
It took two hours to complete, featured 16,000 participants and was designed to allow her to be seen by as many people as possible.
A newly crowned Charles and Camilla will instead travel just 2km (1.3 miles) back in the Gold State Coach after the ceremony, reversing their outward journey as they wave to the crowds, with the King wearing the Imperial State Crown.
The route is understood to have been chosen for practical reasons, being a familiar tried and tested journey for many royal occasions.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The carriages chosen reflect the smaller procession to the Abbey and the larger procession back to Buckingham Palace. They were the personal choice of Their Majesties.”
The Palace declined to comment on whether the decision to opt for the Diamond Jubilee State Coach at the start has anything to do with ongoing back pain the King has suffered for many decades. Camilla has also endured back problems over the years.
The black and gold Diamond Jubilee carriage, built in Australia and first used by the late Queen at the State Opening of parliament in 2014, is the newest in the Royal Mews.
It features modern technology, with six hydraulic stabilisers to stop it from swaying, and traditional craftmanship with interior wooden panels made from objects donated by more than 100 historic sites including royal residences, the Mary Rose, 10 Downing Street and the Antarctic bases of Captain Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Charles’ Coronation Procession in the Gold State Coach will feature a cast of hundreds of members of the Armed Forces from the UK, Commonwealth and the British Overseas Territories, as well as the Sovereign’s Bodyguard and Royal Watermen.
It will take longer than his outward journey because the historic gilded carriage, which will be drawn by eight Windsor greys, is so heavy it has to travel at walking pace.
Sally Goodsir, curator of decorative arts at the Royal Collection Trust, said: “The Gold State Coach will be the centrepiece of the much larger procession from Westminster Abbey back to Buckingham Palace on coronation day.
“It weighs four tonnes and because of that it can only be used at walking pace which really adds to the majesty and stateliness of this great royal procession.”
The priceless array of coronation regalia from the Crown Jewels which will be used during the religious service in the Abbey has also been confirmed.