Last updated on March 31st, 2023
As the countdown to the Coronation of Charles III and the Queen Consort commences, there are plenty of ways in which you can start celebrating all things royal, with coronation events taking place in several palaces and museums around London. Here are eight royal and coronation-themed exhibitions and events to get you in the royal mood. Fans, crowns and gowns make an appearance, so you might want to dust your tiara off for these.
The Coronation: 8 royal exhibitions to book now in London
The glittering world of the Georgian court comes head-to-head with the high glamour of the modern-day red carpet in Crown to Couture. See contemporary couture worn by high profile celebrities, including Lizzo and Lady Gaga, displayed alongside historic costume – drawing parallels between the world of the red carpet and the world of the Royal Court in the eighteenth century. Set to be the largest exhibition ever staged at the Kensington Palace, over 200 fascinating objects will be on display across the glittering State Apartments and intimate exhibition spaces, from some of the finest examples of 18th century court dress to iconic contemporary red carpet looks. 5 April to 29 October. Book here.
The wonderful Fan Museum in Greenwich is hosting a small and perfectly-formed exhibition on all things Coronations and Celebrations. If you haven’t been to this museum before, you’re missing out on one of London’s gems. It holds a vast collection of fans and celebrates the art of fan making as well. Upstairs is the exhibition space where you’ll see some gorgeous royally-appointed fans. Look out for a concertinaed Marie Antoinette, Queen Victoria and Kate and William. You can read all about the Fan Museum and the exhibition here.
Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians brings together over 200 works from the Royal Collection, including paintings, prints and drawings by artists such as Gainsborough, Zoffany and Hogarth, as well as rare surviving examples of clothing and accessories. The exhibition will build up a layer-by-layer picture of what the Georgians wore – from the practical dress of laundry maids to the glittering gowns worn at court – and chart the transformation of clothing and silhouettes from the accession of George I in 1714 to the death of George IV in 1830. 21 April to 8 October at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. Book here.
Claridge’s Archivist Kate Hudson has searched through the hotel’s historical archives to unveil some of its most memorable royal moments and treasures. Showcased for all to see in Claridge’s Coronation Archive Windows on the ground floor of the hotel, this display will have a particular focus on royal coronations throughout the 200-year life of the hotel. These mementos include pages from Queen Victoria’s diary, celebratory fans created by the hotel in 1911 for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, and Claridge’s menus and cocktail cards created for the coronations of King George VI in 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Claridge’s Coronation Archive Windows will be open to view in the hotel’s lobby throughout the month of May. Free to visit.
Visit the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace and see how the royal family get about town when pomp and circumstance are required. The Gold State Coach is there to see in all its flashy splendour. The King and Queen Consort will be travelling in the Gold State Coach after the service at Westminster. You can read all about the Royal Mews here.
Britain’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is often recognised for the famously close association she developed with Pembroke Welsh corgis, owning over thirty of the dogs throughout her 70-year reign. This special one-room royal exhibition at the Wallace Collection celebrates through photographs the unique connection The Queen had with her corgis. Each decade of her life is marked by a single image that captures Her Majesty and her love of the breed. The Queen and her Corgis, Wallace Collection. To 25 June. Free entry.
Head over to Westminster Abbey for their new Church and Crown tour. Explore the different elements of coronations as laid down in the Liber Regalis (the coronation ceremony manuscript). You will be invited to take off your shoes and stand on the Cosmati Pavement, laid in 1269 by Henry III and the site of every coronation since, and to visit the chapel which houses the Coronation Chair to hear about its creation. Discover the Abbey’s royal links throughout history with an Abbey guide. Hear stories from previous coronations – what went wrong, who was barred from attending and which ceremonies nearly didn’t take place. And from 11 April to 30 September, check out the Coronation exhibition in the Chapter House which will reveal the key elements of the royal ceremony which has taken place at the Abbey for nearly a thousand years. Book here but make sure you also book entry to Westminster Abbey.
A post-coronation exhibition is set to open at the Tower of London in May. The Jewel House will include a new display exploring more stories about the history and significance of the Crown Jewels and will explore the origins of some of the objects for the first time, including the destruction of the original jewels under Oliver Cromwell. From 26 May at the Tower of London. Entry included with ticket to the Tower. Book here.