The Coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey
Updated: Aug 10
We drove from Oxford where we spent a couple of days in the center of London. As soon as we heard the date of the coronation, we booked our hotel (the previous year). We were staying a little further from Westminster Abbey when we flew from the funeral of the Queen, as all the hotels started to fill in after the announcement of her passing. This time we found a hotel, the Citadines Trafalgar Square, near Trafalgar Square, just across from the hotel Corinthia and very close to Westminster.
Once again, we met up with our Swiss friends who had already joined us for the Queen’s funeral the previous year. We had dinner on Thursday near the hotel at Sambuca, a local Italian family restaurant. It was raining on Friday, but we still walked to Mayfair, Regent Street and Carnaby Street where we had lunch at one of our favorite London restaurants, Dishoom, which is described as an old Irani café that they used to have in Bombay in the 1960s. Great atmosphere and excellent food. Do not forget to pay a visit to the downstairs restrooms, so you can have a glimpse of the kitchen. And if you enjoy the food, do buy their recipe book (which we cook dishes from often in Florida)!
On the way back to the hotel we did some reconnaissance as we had planned to spend the eve of the coronation outside to get a great place to wacth the coaches go by. A good, covered spot was found on Whitewall Street under the bus stop (it was covered). We had ordered some lounge chairs on Amazon that had been delivered to the hotel. We all left our rooms around three o’ clock and moved to our spot to start our preparations for our overnight camping. More friends joined us and the seven of us started getting prepared for the following 24 hours. We placed our banner showing our official invitation to the ceremony in front of our seats. Many people were impressed and enjoyed chatting with the Duke and Duchess of Florida!
The rain was not falling too hard during the later afternoon. We had dinner in a pub nearby, the Old Shades. The night was fresh, but we were very pleased to have found a covered spot as the forecasts were announcing some rain during the Coronation. By eight in the morning police officers started to ask us to fold our lounge chairs as more people were arriving. By the beginning of the procession to Westminster, we were joined by more people under our covered spot.
We had a great viewing location and we saw the members of the royal family in their limousines on their way to the Abbey. The royal couple rode in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, a horse-drawn carriage that was commissioned to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's 60th anniversary of ascending the throne in 2012. We were disappointed that this time, they did not have speakers around the area, so we were unable to listen to the ceremony. Most people were watching on their phones, so we were able to follow the course of the ceremony. It started raining very hard by then, but we stayed in the back of our shelter, so we kept dry.
At the end of the coronation ceremony, the procession started with thousands of members of the Armed Forces from the United Kingdom and from across the Commonwealth and the British Overseas Territories, dressed in their finest outfits. The royal couple left Westminster in the Gold State Coach, a historic carriage that was constructed in 1762 and first used by King George III to travel to the State Opening of Parliament that year. It was last used at Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee pageant. The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) was among those riding behind the coach on her horse, in her role as Gold Stick and Colonel, a ceremonial bodyguard entrusted with the safety of the king. The Prince and Princess of Wales and their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, were in the first carriage behind the coach with other "working royals" in carriages and cars following them. You would have to witness a procession like this in real life to understand the enormous efforts put forth to do such an event.
Once again, the organization of the event was perfect. Thankfully there were far fewer people than during Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, so it was easier to move around. We had made reservations at one of our favorite pubs, the Red Lion Westminster, for after the procession. It was a great place to relax and eat Fish and Chips after a busy twenty-four hours. We were all exhausted and called it a night pretty early.
On Sunday we went to Camden Town. It is a very colorful neighborhood with lots of shops, bars, and restaurants. That was a perfect destination to walk around after a few busy days. We had our last dinner with our friends before leaving London at Thai Square Trafalgar Square. The restaurant is beautiful and the food is excellent. I would recommend it if you are in the area.
We left for Paris on Monday. We took a cab to St. Pancras Station and then the Eurostar train to Paris Gare du Nord. It takes less time than flying and you can enjoy the 23 miles under the Channel tunnel at a speed of 100 miles per hour.