Kelly Curto is travelling to London for King Charles III’s coronation, her first journey outside the United States, and the die-hard follower of the British royal family is making it the top of her bucket list.
After landing on May 5, the 44-year-old Long Island school bus driver and a buddy will go to the Mall, the ceremonial route leading to Buckingham Palace, where the monarch’s pomp-filled procession will pass the next day.
Despite having splurged on a four-star hotel for their nine-day vacation, they want to spend the night there if they can locate a good place to see the golden horse-drawn state carriage, royals, and hundreds of troops passing by.
“This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You get to be part of history,” Curto said. “Everybody around the world knows this family. Everybody around the world is going to be watching this coronation — and we get to be a part of that.”
The coronation is luring royal enthusiasts fascinated by the ceremonial spectacle — and drama — of the monarchy and far-flung visitors eager to experience a piece of British history. Tour companies, shops and restaurants are rolling out the red carpet, whether it’s a decked-out bus tour of London’s top sights with high tea or merchandise running from regal to kitschy.
The weekend of events starting May 6 will bring a cash infusion to central London businesses, especially hotels, pubs and restaurants, but it won’t do much for U.K. residents struggling with an economy on the precipice of recession and a cost-of-living crisis that has stirred months of disruptive strikes by workers seeking pay hikes.
For visitors looking to splash out, hotels across London are touting coronation-themed packages, menus and decor.
Those willing to spend an eye-popping 12,995 pounds (over $16,000) can get an overnight stay in the Royal Suite at the five-star Hotel Cafe Royal and a limo ride to the Tower of London for a private tour and viewing of the Crown Jewels.
The Dorchester Hotel, long a favorite with royals and celebrities, concocted a lavish, five-tier coronation cake and put up theater-style draping across its facade to re-create the decorations that it used to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
Many international visitors are drawn by the idea of a “beautiful fairytale” about “the royals and everything that is around them