King Charles's coronation procession to be significantly shorter than his mother's

Procession will stretch about 2km, a quarter of the late Queen's celebratory journey in 1953

The Gold State Coach passes Buckingham Palace during Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee Pageant on June 5, 2022. PA
Powered by automated translation

The details of King Charles's coronation are starting to emerge as the May 6 date creeps closer.

The latest information is that the procession after the ceremony will be significantly shorter than that of his mother’s in 1953.

The King’s coronation procession is set to stretch only 2km — about a quarter of Queen Elizabeth II’s celebratory journey.

The newly crowned King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will make their way back from Westminster Abbey on a route that has been tried and tested on many royal occasions.

They will travel through Parliament Square, along Whitehall, around Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch, and down The Mall back to Buckingham Palace.

It will be the reverse of their route to the Abbey but much shorter than Queen Elizabeth II’s 8km return expedition around central London, in which the 27-year-old monarch waved to crowds along Piccadilly, Oxford Street, and Regent Street.

The shorter route has been chosen for practical reasons, with a preference for the familiar journey used on many royal occasions, sources say.

King Charles’s coronation carriages unveiled

King Charles’s coronation carriages unveiled

The coaches: Gold State v Diamond Jubilee

The historic Gold State Coach, which is more than 260 years old, will be used by the newly crowned King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla for the first time in their coronation procession back to Buckingham Palace.

Martin Oates, senior carriage restorer at the Royal Mews, will walk behind the four-tonne carriage in the procession and act as the “brake man”, pulling the hand-held T-bar at the back to secure it in place when it stops.

Despite the coach’s reputation for being uncomfortable, Mr Oates said it now ran much more smoothly than it used to.

He said the four original leather straps that supported the body of the Gold State Coach were replaced 15 years ago.

“When you’re following it, you can hear it creaking so it sounds like an old galleon going along," Mr Oates 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."

Only a sovereign and their consort are permitted to travel in the historic coach, which has been used at every coronation since 1831.

But even Queen Elizabeth II once described her journey to and from the coronation in the bumpy coach as “horrible”.

The carriage has been criticised by many monarchs for being uncomfortable, and even King William IV, who was known as the Sailor King, likened it to “being aboard a ship tossing in a rough sea”.

Queen Victoria complained of its “distressing oscillation”.

The Diamond Jubilee State Coach — in which King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will ride to their coronation — has shock absorbers on it and is much like a car, Mr Oates said.

The black carriage with its gilded decorations is the newest coach in the Royal Mews, and its aluminium body is prevented from swaying by six hydraulic stabilisers.

The coach was specially commissioned for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and has been used on several occasions since.

It is understood that the coach is also equipped with bulletproof glass and extra suspension for a smooth ride.

Its interior is made from objects donated by more than 100 historic sites across Britain and the world.

They include the seat handrails from the Royal Yacht Britannia, and fragments from Henry VIII’s warship the Mary Rose, Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree and the Antarctic bases of Capt Robert Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Procession route

The queen’s journey to her coronation on June 2, 1953, was about 2.5km, taking in a slightly longer route than King Charles’s by making her way along the Victoria Embankment by the River Thames.

The grand procession in 1953 took two hours and featured tens of thousands of participants, with the 4km cavalcade taking 45 minutes to pass any given point.

“The choice of the route and the mode of transport are always carefully considered," a palace official said.

“The practicality of the shorter route is a major factor in the decision, as well as the desire to travel a familiar route that has been used on many royal occasions.”

The coronation of the new monarch is expected to be a more low-key affair than previous ones. The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on plans and it is likely that the event will be smaller than usual.

But officials have assured the public that it will be a momentous occasion, and plans are being made to ensure that it is memorable.

The coach was specially commissioned for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and has been used on several occasions since.

It is understood that the coach is also equipped with bulletproof glass and extra suspension for a smooth ride.

As the preparations for the coronation continue, the people of the UK are eagerly anticipating the ceremony.

It will mark the beginning of a new era in the country’s history, and the nation will be watching with interest to see how the new monarch will take up the mantle of the crown.

Updated: April 10, 2023, 10:50 AM