Everything you need to know about King Charles III's coronation coach
King Charles III's coronation is just days away, and while many across the nation gear up for the bank holiday weekend (and order in any last minute coronation party supplies) others are swotting up on everything you need to know about the event, including how to watch it and who's on the guest list.
Unsurprisingly, there's also a lot of history to wrap our heads around too, such as the important Stone of Destiny that'll make an appearance at the coronation, and the meaning behind the coronation medal that Charles will receive. Another antiquity that'll certainly attract a lot of attention on the coronation day is the coronation coach, which King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will travel around in.
With that in mind, here's everything you need to know about the coronation coach, including how old it is and how much it's worth...
The coronation coach
The first thing to note about the coronation coach is that there's actually two separate coaches: the Diamond Jubilee State Coach and the Gold State Coach.
On the coronation day, Charles and Camilla will depart Buckingham Palace in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach and head towards Westminster Abbey where the ceremony begins at 11am. This procession will take the monarchs through Buckingham Palace's Centre Gate and proceed down The Mall, passing through Admiralty Arch, down Whitehall and along Parliament Street. From here, the procession will travel around Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary, before arriving at the Sanctuary of Westminster Abbey.
After the coronation service, the newly-crowned Charles and Camilla will depart Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach. The pair will then embark on a much larger – and grander – procession back to Buckingham Palace, which has been dubbed the 'Coronation Procession'. This procession will include members of the Royal Family, as well as Armed Forces from the UK, the Commonwealth and the British Overseas Territories, alongside the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, among others.
So, what's the difference between the two coaches?
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach
King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will start their day in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, drawn by six Windsor Grey Horses. The coach was made to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, and was first used at the State Opening of Parliament on 4 June 2014.
The coach is over 5m long and weighs over 3 tonnes, and it is prevented from swaying by six hydraulic stabilisers (a stark contrast to the Gold State Coach, which we'll come onto shortly). Although the coach has an aluminium body, it has also been made using a number of items from historic sites, including carved from oak from HMS Victory, seat handrails from the Royal Yacht Britannia and window frames and interior panels from Caernarfon Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and 10 Downing Street.
Despite its prominence, it is unclear how much the Diamond Jubilee State Coach is worth, or who commissioned it. The coach was built in Australia by coach-builder W. J. Frecklington, previously responsible for constructing the 1988 Australian State Coach, who said that the coach was endorsed (but not commissioned) by Buckingham Palace.
The Palace, however, claimed that Frecklington had completed the coach on his own initiative and maintained that it was not an official royal coach. Nevertheless, the coach was later purchased by the Royal Collection Trust – for an undisclosed sum – and put to official use.
The Gold State Coach
Once Charles and Camilla have been officially crowned, they'll leave Westminster Abbey and begin the Coronation Procession in the historic Gold State Coach – which has been used for every coronation since the 1800s.
The Gold State Coach – which was designed by William Chambers and made by coach-maker Samuel Butler – is the third oldest surviving coach in the UK and dates back to 1760. It was first used by King George III to travel to the State Opening of Parliament in 1762, and most recently by Queen Elizabeth II to mark her Platinum Jubilee in June 2022.
Although commonly thought to be made from solid gold, the Gold State Coach is actually made from wood that has been covered with a thin gold coating. Which is still pretty fancy, if you ask us!
As well as all that gold, the coach is lined and upholstered with velvet and satin, and features elaborately painted panels of Roman gods and goddesses, along with three cherubs on the roof. It's no wonder then that the coach has an eye-watering price tag attached to it. Back in the 1700s when it was first built, the Gold State Coach cost £7,661, 18 shillings and 11 pennies – which would be around £2 million today.
Despite its apparent fanciness, the Gold State Coach doesn't offer the smoothest of rides. In a documentary interview in 2018, Queen Elizabeth II reflected on her coronation journey in the coach, describing it as "horrible".
"Not very comfortable," the monarch said of the ride. "It's not meant for travelling in at all."
Like the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, the Gold State Coach will be drawn by Windsor Greys on the coronation day, but will travel at walking pace due to its age and how heavy it is (spoiler alert: it weighs four tonnes).
We can't wait to see both coaches in action!
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