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. From coronations to weddings and burials, every British monarch has forged a strong bond with the Abbey.


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King Edward the Confessor

In the 13th century Henry III re-built the Abbey church and that is what you see today. Since 1066 all British monarchs except two [Edward V and Edward VIII] have been crowned at the Abbey.

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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 or any bishop but to the sovereign alone.

Thirty kings and queens are buried here, starting with King Edward the Confessor himself in 1066, whose magnificent shrine stands just behind the High Altar. Five monarchs are buried in the royal tombs surrounding his shrine (Henry III, Edward I, Edward III, Richard II and Henry V). More monarchs are buried in the Lady Chapel of Henry VII, although several do not have any monuments. The last monarch buried at the Abbey was George II.

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 (now The Prince and Princess of Wales) in April 2011.


Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, 2011