Security concerns are front and center for officials planning the Coronation of King Charles III on May 6th, as well as for those traveling to the event or to London in the coming days. Concentric’s team of intelligence analysts are monitoring the event and recommend all attendees, as well as travelers to the region prepare for possible travel delays, protests, and enhanced security in and around the event’s locations.
King Charles III’s coronation will be the biggest security operation in London in years. The event will take place at 11:00 am London time (eight hours ahead of Pacific time), with King Charles taking a procession in a royal carriage from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey where he will be anointed and officially crowned king in an hours-long ceremony. Afterwards, King Charles will return on “The Coronation Procession,” a 1.3 mile journey back to Buckingham Palace, scheduled for 2 pm (6 am PST). The public will be able to line streets to view King Charles in his royal carriage.
The coronation is a state occasion, therefore the U.K. government controls the guest list. Royals and heads of state from around the world will be in attendance. First Lady Jill Biden will attend the event, as well as the Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Travel Disruptions and Security Concerns
Travelers should anticipate heightened security measures and travel delays due to the risk of protests, eco-warriors, terrorists, and anarchists. London police have warned protest groups may attempt to disrupt the coronation to bring attention to their cause. Lone-wolves, anti-establishment groups, and other threat actors may also choose to target the high-profile individuals at the event. The threat to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland from terrorism is substantial according to the U.K. government, meaning an attack is likely.
- The popularity of the British Royals is declining according to recent polls, with popularity below 50 percent for Gen Z. Some groups are planning to protest the coronation due anti-wealth sentiment amongst increasing inflation in the United Kingdom. This could lead anti-establishment groups or possible “lone wolves” angered by the pomp of the ceremony to attempt to disrupt any events.
- British police are also actively monitoring groups like Stop the Oil coalition as they fear they and other climate activists could attempt to disrupt the coronation to bring attention to their cause. Activists in Berlin for example glued themselves to a major highway recently to bring attention to climate issues.
The Westminster Council published a map depicting the areas closed to vehicle traffic during coronation weekend. The Council also warns bike and pedestrian paths near the coronation will be closed. Pubs will be able to stay open two hours later on May 6 and 7. May 7 will also feature a concert on the East Lawn of Windsor Castle and Monday May 8 will be a bank holiday across the United Kingdom.
Travelers to London should expect heavy traffic due to road closures and crowds wishing to see the royal procession. In addition, over 1,400 Heathrow Airport security agents have announced a strike during this time.
Royal events are typically large, complex public affairs. Last year, the Queen’s Funeral was one of the biggest security operations in U.K. history and took place with no security incidents. Executive Chairman of Concentric, Roderick Jones, a veteran of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch spoke to us last year about the U.K.’s security forces ability to deploy coordinated specialist search teams, and disperse plainclothes security personnel to monitor for suspicious behavior. The security surrounding this month’s coronation will be no different.
- According to the BBC, more than 6,000 armed forces members will take part, making it the largest military ceremonial operation in 70 years. The U.K. will also utilize the multi-agency Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC), which monitors risks to royals, politicians and other prominent figures. FTAC was also employed for the Queen’s funeral.
Concentric urges travelers to be prepared for significant travel delays on and around the Coronation. Travelers should maintain awareness of their surroundings and avoid Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey if they are not attending the event. Travelers are most vulnerable in crowded areas.
- Though demonstrations are expected and common, they rarely result in violence. Protests often occur around the city’s bridges, Trafalgar Square, and the House of Parliament.
- Petty crimes, such as pickpocketing, purse-snatching, and vehicle break-ins, are on the rise in London. Credit card “skimming” is common and travelers are advised to exercise caution when using ATMs, looking for any signs of tampering, and withdraw money from bank tellers if possible.
- Cybercrime attacks, especially data theft from high-profile targets such as large companies, continue to increase. Phishing is the most common form of cyber attack against travelers. We recommend travelers avoid public Wi-Fi and use VPNs in London.
Author: Paul Gadalla, Intelligence Associate, Global Intelligence