If Westminster Abbey was the most popular entrance in Europe for the Coronation, there was a rather less obvious venue that came in second that same weekend.
The anonymous blue door at 25 Albemarle Street gives little away.
But passers-by on the evening of Friday May 5, the night before the big event, would have seen a remarkable array of celebrities and aristocrats pour into the tastefully decorated drawing rooms and dining rooms.
Because this is Oswalds, Britain’s most exclusive club which, in just a few short years, has established itself as a favorite not just among the aristocracy, but among members of the Royal Family itself.
Sophie, 58, dined with friends at Oswalds last week. Owned by Robin Birley, the club has become a favorite with members of the royal family.
The Duchess of Edinburgh walked out of the club onto a rainy London street, but there was no shortage of help on hand.
There’s nothing extraordinary about the plain front door at 25 Albemarle Street, but behind it lies one of London’s most sought-after members’ clubs.
Members of the Royal Family enjoyed a night at Oswald’s on the eve of the Coronation. Eugenie s pictured in velvet accompanied by her husband, Jack Brooksbank
The night before the coronation, for example, Mike and Zara Phillips joined Beatrice, Eugenie, Princess Anne and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, at the club.
Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice and their husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and their children were also there.
Last week Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh was photographed outside the club. Eugenia celebrated her birthday there, Prince William celebrated Christmas.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie frequent Oswalds. Aristocratic friends of royalty, such as the Van Straubenzees, have also been seen there.
“Oswald’s has become a home away from home for many of our royals,” says Daily Mail Diary editor Richard Eden.
Prince William and Catherine were among the first to visit us. They were followed by everyone from Prince Andrew and his daughters to Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and his children.
“As well as providing a stylish and relaxed environment, the most important thing that Oswald’s owner, Robin Birley, guarantees is discretion. Frustratingly, for a social journalist like myself, Oswald’s members are ultra-discreet and therefore rarely hear what goes on behind their doors.
The club is owned by British businessman Robin Birley, who also owns and runs nearby 5 Hertford Street, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reportedly had their first date.
Significantly, Birley himself chooses to spend his evenings at Oswald’s home, personally receiving guests in the company of his pet dog Peg, or meeting up with friends.
Launched in 2018, the private members’ club is named after Robin Birley’s grandfather, Sir Oswald, a royal portrait painter. His late grandfather’s photo hangs proudly behind the reception desk, according to Tatler.
Zara, who arrived with her stylish husband Mike, showed off dazzling diamond earrings outside the club.
Prince William enjoyed an exceptional meal with friends at the exclusive Mayfair club in May 2022
Oswalds is quite a change from the type of club Prince William and his friends used to frequent. He is pictured leaving Boujis in 2006.
Oswalds is owned by British businessman Robin Birley, who also owns 5 Hertford Street.
Birley already runs 5 Hertford Street. But according to Mail on Sunday editor-general Charlotte Griffiths, she decided to create Oswalds in the hope of attracting a distinctly aristocratic crowd.
‘He figured the way to do it was to make the wine there very, very good, but at very reasonable prices.
‘He clearly understands that the real rich like to have a drink or two, but have less money on hand than the European crowd. And from what I can see, it has worked.
‘Robin even allows members to keep their own mini wine collections in the club’s cellars.
‘It would have been the younger Windsors, people like Beatrice and Eugenie, who introduced the older royals to Oswalds.
‘There’s the added bonus of the upstairs restaurant, La Loma, which is really low-key.’
Beatrice and her husband Edo arrive at Oswalds for a royal family party on Coronation Eve
The Duke (pictured right) and Duchess of Edinburgh (pictured left) also attended the event.
Sophie, 58, and Prince Edward, 59, were joined by their children, James, Earl of Wessex, 15, and Lady Louise Windsor, 19.
Prince Andrew (pictured right) and Princess Anne (pictured left) are pictured arriving at the Mayfair club on May 5, the night before the Coronation.
Oswalds also hosted a group of foreign royals that evening, including Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco, and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.
Added Richard Eden: “Prince William used to be seen at clubs like Boujis and Mahiki, but now you’re more likely to find him at Oswald or Birley’s other Mayfair club, 5 Hertford Street.”
Last year, Prince William was photographed leaving Oswald’s at 11pm after meeting a friend.
Robin Birley is the second son of the late Mark Birley, who founded the iconic Annabel’s in London in 1963. He is named after Robin’s mother, Annabel Goldsmith.
Annabel’s was the first of its kind and paved the way for others to come, it was a members-only nightclub that catered to an exclusive clientele, including, from time to time, Charles, the Prince of Wales and his wife, the Princess Diana.
Located in Berkeley Square, Annabels was where Diana held her bachelorette party and where she returned five years later for Fergie’s pre-wedding party dressed as a police officer.
Queen Elizabeth was said to have visited the club for the 70th birthday of her friend, the Countess of Airlie, in 2003.
Mark Birley, sold the club and his other Mayfair nightspots to businessman Richard Caring for £100 million in 2007.
The sale reportedly devastated Mark’s son Robin, who had been in charge of Annabel until they fell out. Robin was prohibited from using his last name, Birley, for any other business.
In what has been dubbed in society circles “the battle for Berkeley Square”, Robin went on to create the fashionable private clubs 5, Hertford Street and Oswald’s.
Diana reportedly hosted her hen party at Annabel’s before she married Prince Charles in 1981 (pictured leaving the club in 1987)
Lady Annabel is a regular visitor to their clubs.
“I love going to my son Robin’s clubs,” he told Richard Eden.
I go at least once or twice a week and have lunch or dinner with Robin.
For those looking to find out more for themselves about Oswald online, you will sadly be disappointed. The club’s website simply has an illustration of the club and basic information, including the club’s address and membership inquiry phone number.