Skip to main content

Westminster Abbey and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Abbey is no longer open for public worship, general visiting or private prayer. Meanwhile, the community of Abbey clergy, privately and following guidance given, will sustain the worship of a building that has been a witness to God’s grace and glory for over a thousand years.

Find out more

Royalty

The Abbey and the Royal Family

From the moment King Edward the Confessor decided to build his church at Westminster in the 11th century, the story of the Abbey has been woven into the history of the British monarchy.

Edward Confessor in RAMC window detail (DL09)300 Westminster Abbey copyright.jpg

King Edward the Confessor

From coronations to weddings and burials, every British monarch has forged a strong bond with the Abbey. Two centuries later Henry III built the Abbey church you see today. Since 1066 all British monarchs except two [Edward V and Edward VIII] have been crowned at the Abbey.

George IV coronation 1821 - crowning, closer view (Nayler book) 300 Westminster Abbey copyright photo.jpg

Coronation of George IV 1821

Queen Elizabeth I, who succeeded her half-sister Mary I, founded the present Collegiate Church of St Peter Westminster (the formal title for the Abbey) in 1560. The Abbey is a Royal Peculiar responsible not to the Archbishop of Canterbury but to the sovereign alone.

Thirty kings and queens are buried here, starting with King Edward the Confessor himself whose magnificent shrine stands just behind the High Altar. Five monarchs are buried in the royal tombs surrounding his shrine.

Confessors Shrine

Edward the Confessor's Shrine

The Abbey has also hosted 16 royal weddings, including the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April 2011.

royal-wedding-i010.jpg

Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, 2011

At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

Vanessa, Head of Conservation

Twitter logo Tweet this