The Carriages Housed at the Royal Mews
Picture taken standing at the far end of the first ‘side of the square’. The royal carriages are all parked in the bays to the left, the second bay holds one of the royal cars and the bay to my left held display cases of liveries. Colour me happy that each carriage had an information board on the door with pictures of the carriage in use. Back to the far end to begin looking............
Semi-State Landau: This Semi-State Landau is one of several similar coaches at the Royal Mews today. The landau became popular during the nineteenth century as it could be used in both town and country with the hoods open or closed.
The landau was particularly favoured by Queen Victoria, who enjoyed fresh air, and noted in her journal of travelling in an open landau from London’s Victoria Station to Buckingham Palace after “it had snowed all night”.
The Semi-State Landaus were initially plainer town carriages but were gilded and decorated for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. They were used again for the 1897 Diamond Jubilee procession, one of which was used to transport the Queen.
Today, the Semi-State Landaus are in regular use for official and ceremonial duties. Newly-appointed High Commissioners travel in them on the day they present their credentials to The Queen.
Queen Alexandra’s State Coach: Built in 1865, this coach was converted into a glass coach in 1893 for the Princess of Wales, later Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward VII. She used it for social events until her death in 1925.
Since 1962 this coach has carried the Imperial State Crown, the Sword of State and Cap of Maintenance in its own procession, which travels before The Queen’s carriage during the State Opening of Parliament. When the Crown and regalia is travelling to Parliament, it is entitled to a Household Cavalry escort and royal salute. The Crown sits in the coach on a crimson cushion and is lit by electric light.
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach: This coach is the newest coach in the Royal Mews. It was created for The Queen to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee and was conceived of and built in Australia by a team led by Mr J. Frecklington, a former employee at the Mews. The coach is postilion-driven by a groom on each pair of horses, and is almost five-and-a-half metres long, over three metres high and weighs over three tonnes. The body is aluminium which gives it strength and stability. Curving up from the wheels at either side of the footmen’s seat are the traditional springs made from tubular steel, which form part of the suspension. Uniquely, this coach has six hydraulic stabilisers to prevent the body from swaying.
The coach is painted black with heraldic and scrolling details in gold. The paint was built up over several layers: firstly egg white and water were applied, the designs were then outlined and painted in ‘size’, followed by a mixture of gold paint and pigment. Finally gold leaf was added which is burnished to produce the lustre.
The two door handles, made by a New Zealand jeweller, are individually decorated with 24 diamonds and 130 sapphires.
The crown on the top is made in oak taken from HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson’s flagship and is hollow to allow a camera to be fitted to film the crowds lining the carriage’s route.
The frieze around the top of the carriage features the national emblems of the English rose, Scottish thistle, Irish flax and Welsh leek. It was carved in Australian beech wood and gilded.
One of the four crowned lions that decorate the roof of the coach.
The Crystal lanterns were hand-blow and cut in Edinburgh.
The central panel is painted with the Royal coat of arms, with the collar of the Order of the Garter on the sides.
The interior of the coach is lined in yellow silk and the structure is inlaid with various historic timbers. The seat handrails are from the Royal Yacht Britannia, with sections of the window frames sourced from historic structures including Caernarfon Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Durham Cathedral, Henry VIII’s flagship The Mary Rose and fragments from the Antarctic bases of Captain Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton. It also includes a fragment of stone of Scone – the sandstone block which has sat under the Coronation Chair at all coronations since 1308 – a British lead musket ball from the battlefield at Waterloo, a piece of metal from the casting of the Victoria Cross (the highest award for military bravery), the metal comes from Russian guns captured at Sebastopol and finally, an original counterweight from Big Ben.
The wheels each bear the name of the coach maker at the centre.
Irish State Coach: “....a state carriage built for me”. Queen Victoria’s Journal, 2nd September 1853.
The original Irish State Coach was exhibited in 1851 by John Hutton & Sons of Dublin, and was exhibited in the 1853 Great Industrial Exhibition, Dublin, with the hope of attracting the attention of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The coach was purchased by the royal couple and after the death of her husband it was often used by Queen Victoria when she no longer wished to use the Gold State Coach. In 1876 when Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India she had the frieze added to the top of the coach. It includes the palm of India amongst the rose of England and the shamrock of Ireland.
In February 1911, whilst undergoing restoration for the coronation of King George V, the wooden body of the carriage was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt on its original chassis in 19 weeks, and took part in the coronation procession.
The Glass Coach: This coach carried Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to Westminster Abbey for her wedding to The Duke of York (later King George VI) on the 26th of April 1923. Twenty years later, this same coach carried their daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II, to her wedding. It was originally acquired for the 1911 coronation of King George V. Its name comes from the use of glass in all the top panels except for the back. The coach has been used for several royal weddings, usually to convey the bride to the ceremony.
The interior is lined with blue satin and the exterior panels are painted with the royal arms in the centre, flanked by the heraldry of the Order of the Garter. The coach weighs one tonne. It is usually the second carriage in the procession behind The Queen’s carriage for the State Opening of Parliament, and carries the ladies-in-waiting and the Master of the Horse.
Scottish State Coach: The Scottish State Coach was originally built c.1830 and was acquired by Queen Mary in 1930.
In 1968 the coach was converted into the Scottish State Coach. The royal arms of Scotland and the Order of the Thistle insignia were added to the coach panels. The roof had two transparent panels inserted, which makes the interior much lighter. On the top is a fibreglass model of the Crown of Scotland.
The Queen travelled in the coach to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1969 and 2002. The coach is also used n London during state processions. In 2016 the coach featured in The Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations at Windsor Castle and at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Royal Cars: The Royal Mews is also home to the official motor cars used by the Royal Family.
All state cars are painted maroon and black and today include three Rolls-Royces, three Daimlers and two Bentley. Two green jaguar stretched limousines are also garaged at the Royal Mews for use at less formal events. The oldest car in the Mews is the 1950 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, ordered by Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh soon after their wedding. The most recent cars are the two maroon Bentleys, one of which was presented to The Queen as a Golden Jubilee gift in 2002. They were designed with input from The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and the Head Chauffeur.
Every cay is washed in cold water and valeted after each use. Many of the cars feature modifications necessary to their unique use, such as engines which can run at three miles per hour for long distances during processions and Perspex roof fittings to enable crowds to see the occupants. The modern biofuel-powered Bentleys, have ‘coach-doors’ where the rear doors are hinged at the back to ninety degrees. This allows a more dignified exit from the vehicle with the occupants able to stand up straight before exiting.
The Queen’s car flies the Royal Standard from the roof attachment whenever Her Majesty is travelling in the vehicle;there is also a special mascot, a silver figure of St George killing the dragon, which can be attached to the bonnet. The cars Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh use carry no number plates.
ALL IN ALL SUPERB TO SEE