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Ceremonial events surrounding the coronation of King Charles III during 6-8 May will almost certainly cause disruption in London next week and until Monday, 8 May.

This assessment was issued to clients of Dragonfly’s Security Intelligence & Analysis Service (SIAS) on 28 April 2023.

  • Ceremonial events surrounding the coronation of King Charles III and Camilla from 6-8 May will almost certainly cause disruption in London next week
  • We anticipate that the capital will experience road closures, transport delays and large crowds, particularly around the Westminster area
  • A limited number of protests are probable in London during the coronation

The local authorities have advised of disruption during the coronation; it has said at least 1.2m people will line the streets of London and that the capital will be ‘extremely busy’. They have not advised of major disruption to public transport yet, though delays and congestion are likely, including at airports serving the capital. We do not expect significant travel disruption to last beyond 8 May.

A packed city centre

Road closures, public transport delays and large crowds in and around Westminster are likely until 8 May. This is based on statements by the local authorities. Extra police and stewards are reportedly also being deployed to central London to help manage crowds and mitigate security risks. On 6 May, the procession of Charles III and Camilla will set off from Buckingham Palace at 1020hrs and travel to Westminster Abbey, where the coronation service will start at 1100hrs. See the map below for more details on the procession route, road closures and stations that will probably be disrupted.

Following the service at Westminster Abbey, the return procession to Buckingham Palace will follow the same route in reverse. The government has advised visitors to prepare for crowds in Westminster being larger than those for previous Royal events. Based on events in 2022, including Elizabeth II’s jubilee and funeral, it is likely that at least several hundred people will start gathering and staying overnight around The Mall a few days before 6 May.

On 7 May, a concert will take place at Windsor Castle to celebrate the coronation. Although the concert will only be accessible to a limited number of predetermined guests, the local authorities still expect that Windsor will receive several thousand more visitors than usual on the day and that traffic in the town will be disrupted. Based on events last year, it is also likely that there will be limited road closures in the town centre and congestion on several roads between Windsor and central London, including around Heathrow Airport.

Travel disruption likely

The police have advised that they will implement extensive road closures in and around the Westminster area before and during the coronation, from 2-6 May at least. Traffic diversions are very likely to also lead to driving delays throughout central London. For the authorities’ maps of closures, see here. Transport for London (TfL) has advised people to avoid driving in central London throughout the weekend. A few train operators have announced online that they will provide extra services into London as an alternative, but they still advise travellers to allow ‘plenty of time for journeys’.

Airports serving London, particularly Heathrow, are likely to experience delays during the coronation weekend. A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport has advised that security staff will be striking over a pay dispute during the coronation weekend and that there will be ‘inevitable disruption’. Based on statements from the airport and similar strikes in recent months, replacement staff are likely to be put in place. But Heathrow has still advised passengers to allow extra time to travel due to the ‘busy’ days during the coronation.

So far, TfL has not advised of major disruption to public transport during the coronation. But based on Elizabeth II’s jubilee and funeral last year, there are likely to be delays and congestion at stations near ceremonial events and they may close with short notice. Events and advice from TfL last year suggest that the stations most likely to be affected are: Charing Cross, Embankment, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch, St James’s Park, Victoria, Waterloo and Westminster. TfL has also advised that bus services will be diverted and that services could be reduced.

Limited protests probable

Just Stop Oil, an environmentalist group, recently stated that they would not ‘rule out’ protesting during the coronation. So it is reasonably likely that activists will try to increase their exposure during the event. Based on recent protests, their actions would most likely include slow-walking on roads near the procession or vandalising government buildings with paint. An anti-monarchist group, Republic, has threatened to disrupt the procession. But based on their threats and capabilities, this would probably be limited to heckling or small scuffles with monarchists. The police appear well prepared and have said they will use their ‘full range of powers’ to prevent disruption.

Image: King Charles III inspects graduating officer cadets march during the 200th Sovereign’s Parade at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, on 14 April 2023. Photo by Dan Kitwood via Getty Images.