If you ask five people how much King Charles’ Coronation on May 6 at Westminster Abbey is going to cost, you’ll get five different answers. (Trust us—we did just that.) The truth? “We are probably not going to get a cost until the royal family’s financials are published next year,” royal expert Victoria Arbiter tells Marie Claire exclusively. “That doesn’t stop people throwing around all kinds of facts and figures. But there’s no official word, so take all of those with an almighty spoonful of salt. Not a grain of salt—a spoonful.”
The biggest cost of all will likely be security, Arbiter says. “Any time you have a large number of people put together—the Olympics, the World Cup, Trooping the Colour—there will be a large security presence,” she says. “You have to. And it’s not just about protecting the royal family, but the public as well. Security costs will amount for the highest costs.”
While the exact cost has yet to be confirmed, “experts are projecting a total expenditure of about 100 million pounds,” Rachel Bowie, cohost of Royally Obsessed, a Gallery Media Group podcast, tells Marie Claire. “For reference, the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 would have cost about 50 million pounds by today’s money value. Charles’ is estimated to come in at double the cost, mainly due to security needs that have significantly more requirements than seven decades ago. It’s true that the government foots the bill for an occasion like this, but the tourism boom that results should more than make up for it.”
Kinsey Schofield, host of “To Di for Daily” podcast, tells Marie Claire that she doesn’t expect the Coronation to be as expensive as Her late Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee last June or her funeral in September: “Charles is specifically trying to rein in costs and shrink things down,” she says. “Even the procession route is, aside from it being more sustainable to shorten the route, it’s cheaper security-wise to shorten the route. The cost is dramatically different than the Jubilee or the Queen’s funeral.” And, as Bowie mentions, tourism equals incoming money; Schofield adds “it’s positive PR for the country. They’ll have results as far as return on investment.”
The King has his eye on not just sustainability but affordability, Arbiter says. For example, the chairs that the King will use date back to his mother’s 1953 Coronation. “It’s all about the King wanting to observe traditions, while at the same time making sure he is aligning with his vision for a sustainable future,” she says. “The man puts his money where his mouth is. The chairs were reupholstered, and the Queen’s cypher was removed. We are seeing a Coronation that has been adapted for the modern age.”
And, in addition to an eye for cost-cutting where possible, another unspoken ROI is national pride, Arbiter says: “The country will come together, as well as the Commonwealth realms, with unity and a national pride that is kind of lacking these days,” she says. “For me, there is something really rather wonderful about that, the sense of unity we had when the Queen passed and her son stepping into her shoes—incredibly difficult shoes to fill. He has made sure about including representatives of our nation as it exists today, and I’m really hoping people get on board with that on Saturday—and that the feeling of pride continues Tuesday once the bank holiday is over. Rather than the doom and gloom and people hating on the royal family again, this is something new—a chance [for the King] to make his own mark on the institution of the monarchy. This is just extraordinary stuff we are incredibly privileged to witness.”
“The Coronation is hugely exciting,” longtime royal photographer Chris Jackson tells Marie Claire. (His latest book, Charles III: A King and His Queen, is out now.) “The celebration is not just for everyone in the U.K., but also the Commonwealth and the world. It’s nice to look back on the Platinum Jubilee and use that as a template. It’s a really exciting time, and, personally, I will never forget the huge crowds on the Mall [for the Platinum Jubilee]. It was absolutely amazing and such a great atmosphere. I’m looking forward to a bit of that again—[the situations] are very different, but equally exciting.”
Jackson has been photographing the King and Queen for over 20 years and will be onsite on Saturday photographing the ceremony. “There is a groundswell of excitement with the U.K. flags going up,” he says. “It’s always exciting and great to be at the epicenter of moments of national celebration. It’s the most historic event I’ll ever get the opportunity to see. I’ve never photographed a Coronation before, but the nature of royal photography is that there are a lot of unknowns. I’d never photographed a Platinum Jubilee before, and never will again. Getting my head around new events and experiences is something I’ve gotten used to over the last few years.”
If you're currently outside the U.K., you can use a VPN like ExpressVPN—which has a 30-day free trial—to watch the coronation live on the BBC, which aired Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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