Their Royal Highnesses receive personalised roundels from Transport for London

Crowning achievement for British railways

One's mum would be proud. Their Royal Highnesses receive personalised roundels from Transport for LondonImage Transport for London media centre - Flickr

Saturday (6 May) saw Britain’s King Charles attend the most bling-worthy hat fitting in the world. The last time London faced up to the prospect of a ceremonial coronation, the successor of the Coronation Scot was still steaming into London Euston in clouds of actual steam. Five-year old Prince Charles was less interested in crowns, and more interested in chasing Highland cows around the grounds of Balmoral Castle which, at that time, was just eight, not forty-eight, miles from a railway connection (13 versus 77 kilometres). The railway line along Royal Deeside is long gone, but the royal lineage lives on, even if the Coronation Scot has long since puffed its last too.

In this new Carolean Age, it’s not the hiss of steam, but the flashes of all-electric trains that bring a spark of excitement to the crowds converging on the UK capital. The railways of London are no strangers to conveying royal subjects by the thousands to the staging global events. This coronation of Their Majesties King Charles and Queen Camila is putting the public transport network to a test, the likes of which has not been seen since that last crowning, seventy years ago. Transport for London has said it expects thousands of extra visitors. We think they actually omitted to precede that with ‘hundreds of…’

Coronation Crowndels

A lot has changed since the ‘meat still on ration’ days of 1953. This Saturday will have just one thing in common with the last coronation ceremony: the weather. The forecast is predictably, patriotically, British: showery, rainy, and possibly miserable. However, the chances of spirits being dampened by the odd downpour is as unlikely as the new King and Queen deciding to forego the pomp and circumstance of their gold plated coach and horses, and break out their Oyster cards, to sample London Underground in all its crowded but loyal glory.

Exterior of Royal Oak Station in London showing the Underground roundel and name plate
One of several stations around London with a regal connection. Royal Oak however doesn’t get a Crowndel. Sorry Royal Oak.

It’s not just about clearing the tracks of all engineering works and laying on every available train. In patriotic tribute, the most famous metro system in the world is updating its most famous logo, to give the most prominent stations special coronation “crowndels” instead of the famous red, white and blue roundels. Stations adorned for the day include Green Park (alight here for Buckingham Palace); one stop down the Jubilee Line at Westminster (where the whole coronation thing is happening); Victoria (named for the King’s great great great grandmother); and, no surprise here, also at King’s Cross.

Expressing royal affiliation, by appointment at eleven

There’s no word of the Glasgow bound Coronation Scot being revived out of Euston. However, along the road at King’s Cross, the railways get in on the royal act. From this Saturday, the daily 11:00 service to Edinburgh will be named the ‘Carolean Express’. The operators, the government-owned LNER, say it will balance the early morning southbound service, which carries the evocative ‘Flying Scotsman’ epithet. No other namings have been announced, but those great termini will be stretched beyond pre-pandemic limits, as unnamed throngs of coronation commuters descend on London from all around these sceptred isles.

LNER Azuma train standing at the platform in King's Cross with station clock showing 11am
Back in the day, named trains actually had a name and a crest on the front. Maybe it just slipped off that sleek nosecone. An LNER Azuma train standing at the platform in King’s Cross with station clock showing 11am, the departure time of the Carolean Express to Edinburgh.

“Public transport remains the best way to travel in London during the Coronation weekend”, said Andy Lord, London’s Transport Commissioner. “[It] is at the heart of making this historic occasion a success, just like it did when London saw the 1953 Coronation of Elizabeth II. With no planned engineering closures, I hope people make the most of the public transport options to enjoy the holiday.”

Little Red Crown Set

The monarch now announcing on platform one. Transport for London and the Rail Delivery Group revealed on Friday morning that passengers may hear an unusually familiar couple of voices over the public address this weekend. Not the common rundown of destinations and platform alterations, but a right royal first class special message of regal review from Their Majesties. It seems Charles and Camila have their post-reign occupations mapped out – as voice over artists.

Not that creativity is new to the new King. Charles, when not ascending to the throne or dealing with other day to day chores that fall to the senior royal, enjoys painting in watercolours. Though it may be slightly treasonous to observe otherwise, he is, critically acclaimed for his standard of work. Sales of around three million pounds (around three and a half million euro) make him one of the most sought after contemporary painters in the UK. Some railway scenes may lie within the new King’s portfolio, but one thing is for sure: after the coronation, trains, voice overs or paintings, he is, officially … the Artist, formerly known as Prince.

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Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for and

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