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The Abbey and the Royal Family | Westminster Abbey

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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.

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 every British monarch except two has been crowned at the Abbey.

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.

King Edward the Confessor Shrine

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

Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, 2011

Royalty Back to top

The biggest challenge we face is maintaining such a large physical collection of material within a historic building – believe it or not, there’s just not enough space for it all.

Matthew - Keeper of the Muniments

Westminster Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Contact us

The Chapter Office
Westminster Abbey
20 Dean's Yard
SW1P 3PA +44(0)20 7222 5152 [email protected]

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