King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla are putting their own modern spin on the ancient Coronation rituals, and their choice of transportation is no exception.
On May 6, the royal couple will make their way from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in style, riding in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach – a three-ton, 18-foot-long coach that was built in Australia and features all the modern amenities you could ask for, including hydraulic suspension, heating, lighting, electric windows, and air conditioning.
But that’s just the beginning of the ride. After the ceremony, the newly crowned monarchs will switch to the 253-year-old Gold State Coach for a grand procession.
The King’s choice of the Australian-made coach for the Coronation procession not only adds a touch of Commonwealth flair to the event but also highlights centuries of British history.
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach is adorned with various artefacts, such as pieces of Henry VIII’s warship, the Mary Rose, and Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree.
The Royal Yacht Britannia was used to make the handrails, and the roof’s centrepiece is a wooden crown carved from oak sourced from Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, and covered in gold leaf.
The coach also features fragments of iconic landmarks such as 10 Downing Street, the royal box at Ascot, and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic base.
To add to its historical value, the interior walls and door panels are decorated with timber from 30 palaces, castles, and cathedrals, while a fragment of Florence Nightingale’s dress is also included.
All in all, it’s a magnificent and fitting tribute to British heritage.
While the Gold State Coach is no doubt visually impressive, according to the tour guides at the Royal Mews, the Gold State Coach, has a long history of making its passengers extremely uncomfortable.
King William IV likened the coach’s movements to a ship “tossing in a rough sea”, while Queen Victoria found its “oscillation” quite distressing.
Even George VI, who rode in the coach to his own coronation, described the experience as “one of the most uncomfortable rides I have ever had in my life”.
Queen Elizabeth II famously lamented after her 1953 Coronation that the coach isn’t exactly a smooth ride, describing the trip as “horrible” and uncomfortable due to the coach’s leather strap suspension.
But to ensure a comfortable ride, Stephen Mills, a royal household upholsterer, has been working hard to get the Gold State Coach ready for the upcoming coronation event.
As part of his efforts, Mills has been repairing and replacing the sun-faded crimson silk satin on the interior of the coach.
“I’m hoping His Majesty finds it a more comfortable ride,” Mills told The Washington Post. “I’ve made him new cushions.”
The King and Queen Consort have also opted for a reduced, and more direct, Coronation procession route than that of Queen Elizabeth II – which was five miles and took two hours to complete.