The Gold State Coach will feature in the Coronation Procession of King Charles III (though, interestingly, not for both journeys), it was announced earlier this week so we thought we’d take a more detailed look at it.
The coach – which was last seen publicly during Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in June, 2022 – was built for King George III to travel to the State Opening of Parliament in 1762.
Designed by Sir William Chambers, it was built in the London workshops of coach maker Samuel Butler and cost more than £7,500 at the time.
The coach weighs some four tonnes and is 28 foot long and 12 feet high. The coach is made of giltwood – a thin layer of gold leaf over wood – and features sculptures by Sir Joseph Wilton including three cherubs on the roof (representing England, Ireland and Scotland) and four tritons (a display of imperial power) above the wheels. The coach is also decorated with painted panels depicting Roman gods and goddesses by artist Giovanni Battista Ciprian.
Inside the coach is lined with velvet and satin.
The coach is pulled by a team of eight horses wearing a Red Morocco leather harness. At the coronation it will be pulled by Windsor Greys and due to its age and weight, will only move at walking pace.
The coach has been used in every coronation since that of King William IV and was also used for the State Opening of Parliament by Kings George III, George IV and William IV as well as Queen Victoria (up until Prince Albert’s death).
The coach is, however, not said to be the most comfortable ride – Queen Elizabeth II is known to have said so while King William IV described travelling in the coach as like being on a ship “in a rough sea”. So it will only be used for the return, post-Coronation, journey from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace.
For the outward journey – from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey – the King and Queen Consort Camilla will travel in the more comfortable – and Australian-made – Diamond Jubilee State Coach (unlike the Gold State Coach, it comes with air-conditioning, modern suspension and electric windows).
Both coaches are usually housed in the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace.
On Coronation Day, the Gold State Coach will transport the newly crowned King and Queen Consort on a shorter route than that of Queen Elizabeth II on her Coronation Day – just 1.3 miles compared to the late Queen’s five mile route back to the palace. Leaving Westminster Abbey, it will travel down Whitehall and pass under Admiralty Arch before travelling down The Mall to Buckingham Palace.
WHERE: The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace (nearest Tube stations are Victoria, Green Park, St James’s Park and Hyde Park Corner); WHEN: 10am to 5pm (check website for closure dates around the coronation); COST: £15 adults/£10 young person (aged 18-24)/£9 child (aged five to 17); WEBSITE: www.rct.uk/visit/the-royal-mews-buckingham-palace