- Written by Sean Coughlan
- Royal reporter
The King and Queen Consort will travel to the coronation in Westminster Abbey in a comfortable and relatively modern horse-drawn carriage.
They will ride in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, which was first used in 2014, in plans revealed by Buckingham Palace.
But they’ll be back at the mansion in the traditional—but uncomfortable—Gold State coach that’s been used at every coronation since the 1830s.
Crowds can watch the procession as it marches along the Mall and Whitehall in London.
One of the great attractions of the coronation on May 6 will be the chariot procession.
She will exit the gates of Buckingham Palace carrying the royal couple and other members of the royal family, heading to Westminster Abbey where the coronation service will begin at 11:00 BST.
But instead of the Gold State coach, the King and Camilla, Queen Consort, will be in the royal’s newest gig, the Australian Diamond Jubilee State Coach.
This looks traditional, but is really modern, with air conditioning, electric windows and modern suspension.
“They are made of aluminium, which is quite unusual, because most are made of wood, and they also have hydraulic suspension, which means the ride is very comfortable,” says Sally Goodsir, curator at the Royal Collection Trust.
It features woodcuts from historic ships and buildings, including HMS Victory, Mary Rose, Balmoral Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey.
The carriages are seen up close at the Royal Mews, an explosion of gold, glass and polish. They are basically crowns on wheels.
But the royal couple will avoid bumps on the road to the abbey. Recalling her coronation in 1953, Queen Elizabeth described the ride in the 18th-century Golden State coach as “terrible” and “very uncomfortable.”
One of her predecessors, William IV, who was crowned in 1831, described his carriage journey as being on a ship “on a rough sea”.
Buckingham Palace did not comment on the reason for the switch.
But even if the Gold State Coach has its faults, it’s an impressive piece of craftsmanship, with elaborate carvings under a delicate layer of gold and paneling covered in paintings. It may be inconvenient but it is a work of art in circulation.
The four-ton wagon will be assisted in the trip by Martin Oates, who will be the wagon’s brakeman on coronation day.
It follows his great-grandfather who participated in the carriage procession for the coronation of George VI, his grandfather who was there for the coronation of Elizabeth II and his father for the late Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.
“When you walk through the mall, you think of all the family members who were part of it,” said Oates, speaking at Buckingham Palace’s Royal Mews, where the carriages are kept.
On such an occasion, said the team’s trainer Matthew Power, “a hair goes up on the back of your neck”, but it was important to remain calm and to prevent the horses from getting nervous.
“The horses know it’s going to be a big day and you have to be quiet and say it’s just another day at the office,” said Mr Power.
The procession will run from Buckingham Palace, along the Trade Center to Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall to Parliament Square and then to Westminster Abbey. The return will be the same route in the opposite direction.
The coronation ceremony will use traditional regalia, such as symbolic rings and swords, as well as crowns, including St Edward’s Crown which will be placed on the King’s head.
The deflectors used would include one from the 17th century made of ivory, after speculation that it might be withdrawn due to animal conservation concerns.
The oldest item to be used would be a spoon to hold the oil for the icing. This spoon, which probably dates from the 12th century, is a rare surviving fragment of the original medieval coronation regalia, most of which were destroyed after the English Civil War in the 17th century.
Among the more than 2,000 guests expected to be at the abbey will be 450 representatives of charities and community groups, who will be alongside world leaders, politicians and the royal family.
There were complaints about the cost of the coronation from anti-monarchists. In terms of public spending, the government will not release a figure until after the event.
When the procession returns to Buckingham Palace, the newly crowned Charles and Camilla will appear on the balcony, along with other senior members of the royal family.
Last year, for the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, only members of the royal family were allowed to work on the balcony, with the exception of Prince Harry and Prince Andrew who both stepped down from their royal duties.
And to prove that this is the culmination of the 21st century, a special emoji has been created for the occasion.
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