Royal guests to Worcester Cathedral included a succession of English kings and queens.
Worcester and its Bishops had dealings with several Anglo-Saxon kings including amongst others Offa, Alfred the Great, Edward the Confessor and Harold II Godwinson, but it is not recorded which if any visited the city. Worcester was at a strategic site on the way to Wales and the west, and later in medieval times was the site of shrines to Saints Oswald and Wulfstan, and also later of a statue of Mary, which pilgrims visited.
During the civil war between King Stephen and Matilda, Stephen visited Worcester briefly in 1138 and then in 1139 and 1140. On the second occasion he visited the cathedral and gave a ring, which he placed on the High Altar. In 1139 the cathedral became a sanctuary for the citizens when the forces of the Empress Matilda attacked the city, and did terrible damage. Stephen had put Earl Waleran de Beaumont count of Meulan in charge of the city. In 1150 the Earl's decision to change sides cost the local people dearly when King Stephen's soldiers sacked Worcester.
In 1158 King Henry II and his wife visited Worcester, and placed their crowns on the altar. They vowed that they would not wear them again.
King John visited Worcestershire often. He enjoyed hunting in the county and was interested in Saint Wulfstan. In 1207 he is known to have visited the shrine of Saint Wulfstan in the cathedral. In 1216 William Marshall the Younger who was in charge of Worcester changed sides and thus betrayed King John by declaring for the French Dauphin in the civil war. The Earl of Chester and Fawkes de Breauté, on behalf of John, attacked Worcester. They defeated the rebels, and punished Worcester. The monks melted down part of Wulfstan's shrine to pay a fine, which saved the monastery and cathedral from ruin. John was buried in the cathedral between the shrines of Saints Oswald and Wulfstan. They can be seen carved beside his effigy. The cathedral archive contains the original will of King John in which he mentions Saint Wulfstan, and fragments of clothing believed to be from the King's tomb.
King Henry III came to the Cathedral in 1218 for the re-consecration of the Cathedral, which had been damaged by fire in 1202, and visited Worcester several times during his reign. During the baronial revolt of Simon de Montfort, the rebel Robert Ferrers, earl of Derby led an attack on Worcester. He allowed his soldiers to sack the city, destroy the Jewish community, and spared only the cathedral.
King Edward I also visited Worcester on several occasions. Like King John, Edward I was interested in Saint Wulfstan, even sending offerings to his shrine when he could not attend in person. For the marriage of Prince Llewelyn of Wales to Eleanor of Montfort at the door of the cathedral in 1278, King Edward I stayed four days in Worcester. The King of Scotland accompanied King Edward. A great number of the English nobility witnessed the marriage. Edward III is also known to have visited Worcester on at least two occasions.
Henry IV visited Worcester several times, although whether he visited the cathedral is unknown. In 1406-07, John Whytechurch, a monk of the cathedral, noted that the Prince had been to Worcester, meaning Henry Prince of Wales, later to be King Henry V.
King Edward IV visited hurriedly in 1471 whilst pursuing the Lancastrians, and again after moving the bodies of his father and younger brother from Pontefract to Fotheringhay in 1476.
In 1502 another royal, this time Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales was buried in the cathedral. A Chantry Chapel was eventually built which can still be seen today.
Prior William More - head of the monastery had to look after Princess Mary Tudor, who came to stay in 1525. She stayed for fourteen weeks, of which some weeks were spent in the priory, others at the prior's manor at Battenhall, and also at Hartlebury Castle.
Queen Elizabeth I also visited the cathedral and city in August 1575. The Bishop, and Dean and Chapter greeted her, and when she entered the cathedral she was entertained by music, that included cornets and sackbuts, and singing. She then processed under a canopy to the choir where she viewed the tombs of King John, and that of her uncle Prince Arthur. She returned to the cathedral for the Sunday service on the same visit.
In June 1644 during the civil wars, King Charles I stayed in Worcester several days and again briefly in 1645, although it is not recorded whether he visited the cathedral on either occasion. His son Charles II came to Worcester in 1651 at the head of a Scottish army in his attempt to regain the throne for the Stuart monarchy but he was defeated by Oliver Cromwell and forced to flee into exile. King James II also visited Worcester in 1687.
George III visited the cathedral in August 1788 and listened to the Three Choirs Festival, which was specially brought forward to fit in with his schedule. During his visit, the King heard Handel's overture to Esther, the Dettingen Te Deum, Messiah, and other pieces.
In modern times, Queen Elizabeth II also visited the city and cathedral on 3rd April 1980 for the occasion of the Royal Maundy and on 11th July 2012 as part of her Diamond Jubilee Tour.