The King and Queen will ride in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach on the way to Westminster Abbey for their Coronation Ceremony, as confirmed by Buckingham Palace. But what makes this coach different?
It’s the newest coaches at the Royal Mews and provides a more comfortable ride for its passengers compared to other historic coaches in the collection, like the Gold State Coach.
The six-horse drawn carriage was initially to be made commemorate to mark Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday. However, it was delayed by nearly eight years, and instead used to commemorate her 2012 Diamond Jubilee. Originally, it was referred to the as the Britannia State Coach.
Built in Australia by W. J. (Jim) Frecklington – who was responsible for building the Australian State Coach in 1988 – the Diamond Jubilee Coach combines traditional craftsmanship, and nods to British history, with modern elements.
Upholstered in pale yellow silk, inside the wooden panels are made from donations from over 100 historic sites and organisations. Donations of material came from the Tower of London, Balmoral, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, the Tudor ship Mary Rose, York Minster, St George’s Chapel, Hampton Court, Windsor Castle, part of Sir Isaac Newton’s historic apple tree. These parts of history line the lower part of the carriage, around the seating and the silk panel in the wall.
The internal handrails, meanwhile, come from Royal Yacht Britannia.
Included in this material tour of history is also a musket ball from the Battle of Waterloo to symbolise the army and its close royal connections, located in a recess beneath the seats, and the Scottish Government also donated material from the Stone of Destiny, which is similarly placed on the opposite side.
The two door handles on the coach were individually decorated with 24 diamonds and 130 sapphires, created by a New Zealand jeweller.
Providing a modern touch to the coach, the gilded crown on top can also hold a camera to film the journeys it embarks on. This crown is carved from wood from Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory and is surrounded by carved golden lions. Along the roof are carved floral emblems of the UK.
The coach is distinguishable by the crown, its ornate glass lanterns, and its gold wheels and undercarriage.
It has an aluminium body and is prevented from swaying by six hydraulic stabilisers, unlike some of the older carraiges. The coach is also fitted with electric windows and heating.
He intended for the coach to be a celebration of the UK’s history and heritage, shown in the craftsmanship. It was funded as a private initiative, but Frecklington also received help from the Australian government in form of a $250,000 (£138,000, at the time) grant.
Check out the 'Diamond Jubilee State Coach,’ Britain's newest royal carriage pic.twitter.com/0x54yah9B2
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 10, 2023
The coach is over five metres long, weighs over three tonnes and needs six horses to pull it.
Transport issues meant that the coach was completed in 2010, but didn’t arrive in London until 2014 – quite the unusual package! It made its debut at the State Opening of Parliament on 4th June 2014.
Freicklington said of the coach: ‘I wanted to create something very special to mark the Queen’s reign. Our present Queen will go down in history as one of the greatest monarchs that’s ever lived and I thought something very special – a tangible item – should be produced.’
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Jim Frecklington with the coach in 2006
While not commissioned by Buckingham Palace, the Royal Collection Trust bought the coach from Frecklington for an undisclosed sum, sourced from a private donation, and is now part of the Royal Collection.
Featured image: Nithya Selvaraj