The iconic Gold State Coach selected to carry newly crowned King Charles and Queen Camilla back to Buckingham Palace following the Coronation has been used at every Coronation since William IV’s in 1831 as well as being a fixture at Royal jubilees and VIP events since it was built in 1762.
Don’t expect a smooth ride though. Queen Elizabeth II kept a hot water bottle under the coach seat on her Coronation Day in 1953 to keep the chill away and described riding in the coach as "horrible, it's not meant for traveling at all". While that might sound like the ultimate first-world problem, Her Majesty isn’t the only one to complain. King William IV described the coach ride as ‘tossing in a rough sea’ while Queen Victoria recalled the ‘distressing oscillation’.
Blimey. Here are five more secrets of the Royal ride:
1. The King’s Gold State Coach moves verrrrrry slowly
The Gold State Coach is a heavy carriage - four tons to be precise - and stretches to 29 feet long and 12 feet high. Even with eight horses pulling it, the coach only moves at a walking pace. The carriage was initially supposed to be ready for King George III's coronation in 1761, but delays meant it wasn’t used until November 25, 1762, when it transported George to the Opening of Parliament. Designed by William Chambers and made by the coachmaker Samuel Butler, the State Coach is managed by four postilions, nine walking grooms (one of whom walks behind the coach), six footmen, and four Yeoman of the Guard carrying their long partisans.
2. The Gold State Coach isn’t actually made of solid gold
The giltwood structure has a thin layer of gold leaf set over wood with a velvet and satin upholstered interior. each element featured on the structure bearing deep significance. On the main body of the Coach, there is gilded wood carved to represent palm trees, used to frame the doors and windows. It also features magnificent painted panels of Roman gods and goddesses and there are three cherubs on the roof, which represent England, Scotland, and Ireland. The iron wheels were rubberized after WWII.
3. The Gold State Coach was a Royal bargain when it was build in the 1760s
The complexity of the design and manufacturing process meant Sir William Chambers’ final design was still being discussed in summer 1762 but it was finally ready months later. The coach initially cost about £7,500 ($9,400) to build, with coach builder Samuel Butler paid just over $2,000, sculptor Joseph Wilton taking home about $3,000 and Italian painter G.B. Cipriani a mere $400. Today its value is estimated at more than $1.9m.