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London’s awash with kitsch fit for a king

The crown has been resized. The troops are prepared for the biggest military procession in 70 years. The Gold State Coach is ready to roll.

King Charles III’s coronation in London on Saturday marks one of the most important moments in the modern history of the British monarchy.

Everyone wants a piece of the action.

Royal fans and far-flung visitors have been lured – and fascinated – by the ceremonial spectacle of the monarchy, with tour companies, shops, hotels, supermarkets and restaurants cashing in and laying out the red carpet.

Whether it’s a decked-out bus tour of London’s top sights boasting high tea, booze, meals or merchandise running from regal to kitschy, there’s a party and memorabilia for every taste.

Showtime! Replica coins, a knitted King and branded crockery. Photo: Getty

Massive spend

All up, families and tourists are expected to spend £1.4 billion ($2.6 billion) in the run-up to the ceremony, reported the UK’s Sun newspaper.

Whether it’s tasteful or tacky, let’s narrow it down to the spend on merchandise – a massive £245.91 million ($462.5 million), according to the tabloid’s estimates.

Residents have decorated their letterboxes in hand-knitted purple crowns, you can buy a life-size photograph of the King to stick on your lounge wall next to the TV, and you can even take a ride on the London Eye to get crowned in a sky-high photo booth.

Aldi is selling coronation coleslaw in the UK. Photo: Aldi

Supermarket chain Aldi is selling coronation coleslaw to go with the spinach and broadbean coronation quiche, and its own king and queen of vegetables just in time for the party – limited-edition knitted Charles and Camilla Kevin the Carrots for £3.99 ($7.50).

Morrisons grocery chain is selling ‘God Save the King’ banners and dinner-plate size cookies with ‘Party Like Royalty’ written in icing, while Heinz changed the name of its tomato ketchup to Kingchup (don’t worry, it’s a 570-bottle limited-edition run).

Not to be outdone, Tesco is selling cheap coronation teddy bears – including the coronation London guardsman bear for £6 ($11.20) or the king coronation bear for £10 ($18), and there’s also a coronation Jack Russell door stop for £12 ($22.50) and a £3 ($5.60) inflatable crown.

MyLondon writer Lea Dzifa Seeberg took the tube to Buckingham Palace, and walked around the shops to find the weirdest stuff for sale.

She found a very expensive limited-edition £300 ($564) coronation teddy bear, a £150 ($282) pair of champagne flutes and £9.95 ($18.70) bobble-heads “that made the King dance a little every time the sun hit him”.

She found “[a plate] emblazoned with the coat of arms, lots of garlands and other scribbly things, [and] one of the suckers cost £195 ($366) despite being barely big enough for a slice of cake,” she wrote.

Nicholas Allan, award-winning author and illustrator of The King’s Pants, puts the finishing touches to his King Charles III work of art for the coronation-themed window of Waterstones’ flagship store on Piccadilly. Photo: Getty

Grocery chains are selling gluten-free coronation chicken-flavoured sausages made by Heck (chicken with mild curry spice, seasoning and raisins), while coffee company Nespresso released its coronation-themed coffee pods in an exclusively designed sleeve.

Biscuit companies across town are selling hand-iced biscuits including the sovereign’s orb, sceptre and Westminster Abbey.

You can buy a cardboard cutout of King Charles. Photo: Getty

Coronation plates and cups. Photo: Getty

A full-size Lego figure of the King at Hamleys toy store in central London. Photo: Getty

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Historian Kate Williams has her picture taken inside a pod of the lastminute.com London Eye, in central London, which has been transformed into Westminster Abbey, complete with replica coronation chair and crown jewels. Photo: Getty

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Cashed-up royal fans can bid on replicas at the Bond Street auction house, Christies. This set for sale costs £10,000-£15,000 ($18,800-$28,200) and includes five sceptres, three swords and five crowns, including St Edward’s Staff, the Queen Mother’s Crown and the Anointing Spoon. Photo: Getty

What you need to know

As we can see, Britain is gearing up for a day-long celebration and party, and whether you’re a monarchist or republican, it will be hard to escape the event.

Time and date

In Australia, the coronation of the King and his wife, Queen Camilla, takes place late on Saturday afternoon, with the ceremony starting at 6pm AEST with the arrival of guests before the coronation service from 11am London time (8pm AEST).

Locations

The service will take place at Westminster Abbey, with processions and events across London.

The King and Queen head to the abbey in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach accompanied by the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry as part of a procession from Buckingham Palace along the Mall, through Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall and down Parliament Street to Westminster Abbey.

After the ceremony, they will return to Buckingham Palace in a larger procession along the same route aboard the Gold State Coach, accompanied by other royals, armed forces from across Britain and the Commonwealth, as well as the Sovereign’s Bodyguard and Royal Watermen.

Free-to-air network coverage

ABC and ABC News will broadcast the coronation live from London, with coverage starting from 5pm AEST.

The Nine network (Channel 9, 9Gem and 9Now) will also broadcast live from 5pm while the Seven network (Channel 7 and 7Plus) will start proceedings an hour earlier at 4pm AEST.

The BBC News coverage can be accessed via Foxtel and Fetch subscriptions, and online through bbc.com.

The Ten network will screen the Ceremony of the coronation of their majesties live in all cities from 4.30pm.

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