The only catch? They will have to walk around in their socks.
The abbey, which has been the site of generations of royal weddings and funerals, says it’s the first time in living memory that visitors will be able to walk on the Cosmati pavement, a mosaic containing marble, stone, glass and metal that dates to the 13th century.
On May 6, Charles will become the 40th monarch to be crowned at the abbey — and the first in 70 years. His coronation chair will stand on the intricate floor in front of the abbey’s high altar.
The Cosmati pavement was “hidden under carpet and thus away from public view from the 1870s” onward, until restoration works were completed in 2010, the abbey says — making this the first time in more than a century that the unique mosaic will be on display during a coronation.
The mosaic tours will take place shortly after the May 6 coronation, on select days between May 15 and July 29. Visitors will have to remove their shoes to avoid damaging the mosaic — and must remember to bring socks, as bare feet are also not allowed for hygienic reasons, according to the abbey.
So how much will it cost to stand at the spot where King Charles will be crowned? Visitors will need to pay about $18 to prebook the tour, plus a fee of up to $33 to enter the abbey itself.
Unfortunately for many monarchy fans, all tour dates sold out within hours of going on sale, although not all hope is lost — the abbey’s press office has confirmed that any canceled tickets will be resold via Eventbrite.
“Due to the historic significance and importance of the pavement, and the need to maintain its condition for the future, the Abbey has been only able to offer these tours in limited numbers,” the press office said in an emailed statement.
Visitors can still take part in other events the abbey has organized to mark the coronation, including an exhibition, and a special coronation afternoon tea.
Attitudes toward the monarchy vary significantly in Britain. A poll last year suggested that two-thirds of people felt the United Kingdom should continue to have a monarchy but that younger people were much less supportive than older generations.
On Thursday, the abbey was visited by anti-monarchy demonstrators, who stood on the Cosmati pavement, wearing shoes, while unveiling a banner that read: “Would you vote for him?”
“There is no symbol that better represents the fundamental travesty of our democracy than the coronation throne in Westminster Abbey,” the group Republic, which campaigns for the abolition of the monarchy, tweeted.
The Cosmati pavement, commissioned by King Henry III and named after the Italian family that created the technique, was completed in 1268, according to Westminster Abbey. For decades, the mosaic was hidden by carpets — including during the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 and her father, George VI, in 1937 — but it emerged again in 2010 after workers completed two years of conservation work.
Since then, members of the public have been able to see, but not step on, the pavement.
As well as representing a key part of Britain’s royal history, the abbey is home to the tombs of some of Britain’s most famous names, including scientists Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking, and authors Rudyard Kipling and Charles Dickens.
Arrangements for Charles’s coronation have been underway for months, from altering the solid-gold St. Edward’s Crown, with its hundreds of jewels, to the commissioning of a new coronation song, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
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