The British Royal family possess some of the most beautiful carriages ever made and, with the Royal Mews located directly opposite Rubens at the Palace and Hotel 41, guests at the hotel need only cross the road to see them in all their glory. Home to the Royal family’s transport fleet, the Royal Mews has a fascinating collection of historic carriages and coaches, including the carriages used for royal weddings, coronations and state openings of parliament. Here are four of our favourite carriages to see on your next visit.
Irish State Coach
Bought by Queen Victoria in 1852 for the sum of £852, this carriage has been used to ferry Queen Victoria as well as monarchs King George VI and Her Majesty The Queen to the State Opening of Parliament. The coach is drawn by four horses and is most commonly known as the vehicle of choice for the journey from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster for the State Opening of Parliament each year. Built in Dublin, it’s said that Queen Victoria caught sight of the carriage at the Great Industrial Exhibition in 1853 and liked it at once. After the death of Prince Albert in 1861, it became Queen Victoria’s preferred mode of transport as opposed to the Gold State Coach.
1902 State Landau
Built at the turn of the 20th century for King Edward VI, the 1902 State Landau was made by Hoopers and its most notable recent use was for the royal wedding in 2011 of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The magnificent carriage is open-topped and also featured in the 1981 royal wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, as well as the Duke of York’s marriage to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach
The newest addition to the Royal Mews’ collection, as it names suggests, the Diamond Jubilee State Coach was built to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and is one of only two carriages that have been built for the Royal family during the last century. This exquisitely crafted coach, which is enclosed in style and requires six horses to draw it, was originally intended to coincide with The Queen’s 80th birthday. However, the coach, which was painstakingly made by W.J. Frecklington in Australia and includes material taken from Britain’s historic sites such as timber from Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory, didn’t arrive until eight years later. Look out for the door handles, which are adorned with diamonds and sapphires, and you’ll see why it was worth the wait.
The Gold State Coach
The gilded star of the Royal Mews, the Gold State Coach is nothing short of breathtaking. Built in 1762 for King George III, it’s been used for the coronation of every monarch since and weighs a staggering four tonnes, meaning eight horses are required to pull it. The carriage was created with plenty of elaborate symbolism, such as the three cherubs on its roof which symbolise the guardian spirits of England, Scotland and Ireland and represent the Sceptre, the Sword of State and the Ensign of Knighthood.
Watch the Royal carriages come and go as you enjoy a Royal Afternoon Tea in the Palace Lounge at The Rubens at the Palace, overlooking the Royal Mews.
Image Credits: All images courtesy of Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.