The coronation of an English monarch is an event that hasn’t happened since 1953—and a 2023 visit to the United Kingdom is an historic time to experience the pageantry of English royal traditions at their finest.
Crowning Glory: Why 2023 is the Year to Visit the United Kingdom
Posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2022
Story by: Molly Waldstein | Travel Writer
England Celebrates its First Royal Coronation in 70 Years
After 70 years on the throne, England’s beloved Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully at her family home in Balmoral, Scotland on September 8, 2022. At the instant of her death, the monarchy passed to the shoulders of her eldest child: Charles. And while the country remains in a period of state mourning in 2022, the spring of 2023 holds the promise of renewed cheer with the coronation of King Charles III in Westminster Abbey on May 6. That makes 2023 the perfect year to take a cycling tour of England! Whether you prefer VBT’s England: Bath & the Cotswolds Guided Tour, or VBT’s England: Oxford & the Cotswolds Self-Guided Tour, you’ll experience the energy and excitement of the British Isles during the year of this historic event.
Pulling Out the Stops: The Crowning of a British Monarch
While the United Kingdom hasn’t seen the crowning of a monarch since the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, if history is any guide, we can expect the next coronation to be an elegant affair. Crowned on June 2, the procession of Queen Elizabeth II from her residence at Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey was greeted with great jubilation by the English people. In a daringly modern move, the young Queen—just 25 years old at the time of her accession—arranged for her coronation ceremony to be televised. This allowed the British people a rare, inside view into the pomp and traditions that have defined the British monarchy for generations. An estimated 27 million Britons tuned in to this historic event from living rooms, parlors, and neighborhood pubs across the United Kingdom. The coronation of Elizabeth II was celebrated by British families from the hills of Northumberland to the coast of Cornwall—and entire London neighborhoods closed their streets to traffic with lavish party tables set for an historic celebration of regnal proportions.
A quick hunt through modern-day eBay reveals a range of commemorative Elizabeth II coronation merchandise—including coronation tea sets imprinted with the royal coat of arms, toffee trays bearing technicolor portraits of the monarch and her consort, the Duke of Edinburgh, tea towels, sets of spoons, postage stamps, and assorted memorabilia commemorating the historic occasion. Seventy years later, one can almost expect the crowning of the next British monarch to take place with equal, if not greater, enthusiasm and celebration. When you return home after your 2023 England: Bath & the Cotswolds Guided Tour, not only might one say with full literal accuracy “been there, done that, got the T-shirt,” but a King Charles III coronation T-shirt might even become a valuable collector’s item for future generations.
Operation Golden Orb—and the Nation-Wide After-Party
Aware of her advancing age, Queen Elizabeth and her successor laid plans for the coronation several years in advance. Saddled with the cumbersome title “Operation Golden Orb,” the plans for the coronation of King Charles III were outlined in elaborate detail in collaboration with both the current and future monarchs. According to Buckingham Palace, on May 6, 2023, King Charles will proceed into Westminster Abbey where he will take his seat on the famous chair of Saint Edward—a legendary oaken seat on which British monarchs have been crowned since Edward the Confessor established the tradition in the 13th century. There, the new monarch and his wife, Camilla, will be formally crowned and take the scared oaths of office.
A bank holiday has been announced to coincide with the May 6 coronation date—shops will be closed to allow British families to celebrate this historic occasion. During England’s last coronation in 1953, over half a million people took to the streets of London the day before the event in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Gold State Coach transporting the Queen—and there’s no reason to think the crowds looking on as Charles is crowned will be any less. No matter what, a trip to England in 2023 is sure to find Britons everywhere chatting excitedly about the event—comparing it to memories of the last coronation and the proud history of the British Isles. Don’t miss out on this chance to experience a slice of history first-hand when you take a 2023 VBT cycling trip to the United Kingdom!