Don’t miss Buckingham Palace & The Royal Mews if you are planning a trip to London. Check the dates for when the palace is open to visitors. As one might imagine, Buckingham Palace is most beautiful and quite interesting to tour.
The reason we planned our trip to London when we did was so we could visit Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the Queen, and to view the State Rooms as well as the Royal Mews. Visiting inside is only when Her Majesty is away for the summer months.
Before heading to Buckingham Palace, we began our second day in London with a breakfast at the hotel.
From the Palace to The Royal Mews
State vehicles are housed and maintained at the Royal Mews. They include the carriages used for royal and State occasions, such as State Visits, weddings and the State Opening of Parliament. Carriages from the Royal Mews are also used on roughly 50 occasions each year to convey newly appointed High Commissioners and Ambassadors from their official residence to Buckingham Palace to present their credentials to The Queen. Since 1843 the daily messenger Brougham has set out from the Royal Mews to collect and deliver post between Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace. source
The Gold State Coach
The Gold State Coach is an enclosed, eight horse-drawn carriage used by the British Royal Family. It was built in the London workshops of Samuel Butler in 1762. It was commissioned for £7,562.
The coach’s great age, weight, and lack of maneuverability have limited its use to grand state occasions such as coronations, royal weddings, and the jubilees of a monarch.
The coach weighs four tons and is 24 feet (7.3 m) long and 12 feet (3.7 m) high. It is gilded and features painted panels by Giovanni Cipriani and rich gilded sculpture including three cherubs on the roof (representing England, Ireland and Scotland) and four tritons, one at each corner (representing Britain’s imperial power). The body of the coach is slung by braces covered with Morocco leather and decorated with gilt buckles. The interior is lined with velvet and satin. The Gold State Coach is pulled by a team of eight horses wearing the Red Morocco harness. Originally driven by a coachman, the eight horses are now postilion-ridden in four pairs. The coach is so heavy it can only be pulled at a walk. The coach has (gilded) brakes, these have to be operated by the grooms.
As the coach is suspended from braces, it lacks more modern comfort. Modern coaches like the Australian State Coach and the Diamond Jubilee State Coach have electric windows, heating and hydraulic stabilizers.
In the words of King William IV, a former naval officer, being driven in the Gold State Coach was like being on board a ship “tossing in a rough sea”. Queen Victoria complained of the “distressing oscillation” of the cabin. She would often refuse to ride in the Gold State Coach. A later monarch; King George VI said that his journey from the palace to Westminster Abbey for his coronation was “one of the most uncomfortable rides I have ever had in my life”.
King George VI had the coach overhauled after the Second World War to rubberise the iron-bound wheels. This would afford at least some comfort to the passengers.
The Gold State Coach has been used since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She used it on the days of her Silver and Golden Jubilees.
The coach is managed by 4 postilions, 9 walking grooms (one of whom walks behind the coach), 6 footmen, and 4 Yeoman of the Guard carrying their long partisans. Eight of the grooms walk beside the horses. The more ornately dressed footmen walk beside the body of the coach. The postilions have to handle the horses when the animals are unruly, and they carry crooked walking-sticks to hold up the traces that may become slack when the coach is taking a corner. The royal coachmen are traditionally clean-shaven. The horses are always grey. source
Obviously not impressed with her royal status, dear Meg could barely keep her eyes open and was the sleepiest horse I have ever seen.
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