The Gold State Coach at the Royal Mews
The reason we planned our trip to London when we did was so we could visit Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the Queen, and to view the State Rooms as well as the Royal Mews. Visiting is only when Her Majesty is away for the summer months.
Buckingham Palace is one of the world's few remaining working royal palaces.
We began our second day with a breakfast at the hotel.
A traditional full English breakfast includes bacon (traditionally back bacon), fried, poached or scrambled eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, toast with butter, sausages, and baked beans. During our time there, I also enjoyed the porridge (oatmeal) topped with raisins, almonds and sweetened with honey.
Off again to the King's Cross station bound for Buckingham Palace.
From the Underground we walked through beautiful Green Park
Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit The Green Park, the smallest of the capital's eight Royal Parks. Comprising just over 40 acres of mature trees and grassland next to Buckingham Palace, the peaceful triangle between Piccadilly and Constitution Hill offers a popular location for picnics and sunbathing in fine weather. source
Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a site which had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was subsequently acquired by King George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte and was known as "The Queen's House". During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, who formed three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. source
Crossing the street from Green Park we approached Buckingham Palace.
Queen Victoria, was the first monarch to reside there as her predecessor William IV had died before its completion. While the state rooms were a riot of gilt and colour, the necessities of the new palace were somewhat less luxurious. source
one of the many selfies we took
John in the crowd at the Queen Victoria Monument that stands in front of Buckingham Palace
The Victoria Memorial is a monument to Queen Victoria, located at the end of The Mall in London, designed and executed by the sculptor Sir Thomas Brock. Designed in 1901, it was unveiled on 16 May 1911, though it was not completed until 1924. source
a day of beautiful weather
We exited the Palace at the back and headed to a lovely patio cafe.
a Royal treat
Sponge cake with raspberry and cream
Gates from Buckingham Palace to The Green Park
John at the stately Palace Gate
another selfie before walking from the Palace to The Royal Mews
The Royal Mews provides road transport for The Queen and members of the Royal Family by both horse-drawn carriage and motor car. It is also one of the finest working stables still in existence, responsible for the training of the Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays, the horses that pull the royal carriages.
State vehicles are housed and maintained at the Royal Mews. They include the carriages used for royal and State occasions, such as State Visits, weddings and the State Opening of Parliament. Carriages from the Royal Mews are also used on roughly 50 occasions each year to convey newly appointed High Commissioners and Ambassadors from their official residence to Buckingham Palace to present their credentials to The Queen. Since 1843 the daily messenger Brougham has set out from the Royal Mews to collect and deliver post between Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace. source
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach is a horse-drawn carriage measuring almost five-and-a-half metres long, over three metres high and weighing over three tonnes. It requires three grooms and is drawn by six horses. The coach was conceived by Mr Jim Frecklington and built in Australia by a team of craftsmen under his leadership. source
The most dazzling of all coaches housed in the Royal Mews is the Gold State Coach, which has been used at every coronation since that of George IV in 1821.
The Gold State Coach is an enclosed, eight horse-drawn carriage used by the British Royal Family. It was built in the London workshops of Samuel Butler in 1762. It was commissioned for £7,562.
The coach's great age, weight, and lack of manoeuvrability have limited its use to grand state occasions such as coronations, royal weddings, and the jubilees of a monarch.
The coach weighs four tons and is 24 feet (7.3 m) long and 12 feet (3.7 m) high. It is gilded and features painted panels by Giovanni Cipriani and rich gilded sculpture including three cherubs on the roof (representing England, Ireland and Scotland) and four tritons, one at each corner (representing Britain's imperial power). The body of the coach is slung by braces covered with Morocco leather and decorated with gilt buckles. The interior is lined with velvet and satin. The Gold State Coach is pulled by a team of eight horses wearing the Red Morocco harness. Originally driven by a coachman, the eight horses are now postilion-ridden in four pairs. The coach is so heavy it can only be pulled at a walk. The coach has (gilded) brakes, these have to be operated by the grooms.
As the coach is suspended from braces, it lacks more modern comfort. Modern coaches like the Australian State Coach and the Diamond Jubilee State Coach have electric windows, heating and hydraulic stabilisers.
In the words of King William IV, a former naval officer, being driven in the Gold State Coach was like being on board a ship “tossing in a rough sea”. Queen Victoria complained of the “distressing oscillation” of the cabin. She would often refuse to ride in the Gold State Coach. A later monarch; King George VI said that his journey from the palace to Westminster Abbey for his coronation was "one of the most uncomfortable rides I have ever had in my life”.
King George VI had the coach overhauled after the Second World War to rubberise the iron-bound wheels. This would afford at least some comfort to the passengers.
The Gold State Coach has been used since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She used it on the days of her Silver and Golden Jubilees.
The coach is managed by 4 postilions, 9 walking grooms (one of whom walks behind the coach), 6 footmen, and 4 Yeoman of the Guard carrying their long partisans. Eight of the grooms walk beside the horses. The more ornately dressed footmen walk beside the body of the coach. The postilions have to handle the horses when the animals are unruly, and they carry crooked walking-sticks to hold up the traces that may become slack when the coach is taking a corner. The royal coachmen are traditionally clean-shaven. The horses are always grey.source
Obviously not impressed with her royal status, dear Meg could barely keep her eyes open and was the sleepiest horse I have ever seen.
Visiting the Royal Mews, you may also see the famous Windsor Greys, so called because they were kept at Windsor during the reign of Queen Victoria and drew the private carriages of the royal family. They are at least 16.1 hands (1.65 metres) high and are chosen for their steady temperament and stamina.
As expected, the stables were mostly empty but still delightful to visit.
We ended this day by picking up fresh bread, cheese and chocolate from a market at Kings Cross station. We ate in our hotel room as we sent pics home via a phone app, wrote out postcards and updated our travel journal.