April 24, 2024

The King and Queen Consort will travel to the coronation at Westminster Abbey in a more comfortable, relatively modern, horse-drawn carriage.

They will ride in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, first used in 2014, before returning in the Gold State Coach used in every coronation since the 1830s.

The return procession route will be much shorter length of Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953.

Crowds can watch the procession going along the Mall and Whitehall in London.

The carriage procession will be one of the spectacular sights of the coronation on 6 May.

The royal couple and other members of the Royal Family will head out from the gates of Buckingham Palace and travel to Westminster Abbey, where the coronation service will begin at 11:00 BST.

The 1.3 mile (2.1km) journey will take them down The Mall, through Admiralty Arch, along Whitehall and to Parliament Square before arriving at the Abbey.

Some 70 years ago, the Queen also travelled along Victoria Embankment by the River Thames, making her outward journey a slightly longer 1.6 miles (2.6 km).

The return leg, which has been named the Coronation Procession, will take the same 1.3 mile route back – but will be much larger in scale and feature military from across the Commonwealth as well as all services of the UK armed forces.

The Queen’s return trip was around four times longer, covering 5 miles (8km). It took two hours and saw her waving to crowds along Piccadilly, Oxford Street and Regent Street.

It is understood the King’s shorter route has been chosen for practical reasons.

Gold state coachIMAGE SOURCE,PA MEDIA
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The traditional Gold State Coach will be used on the way back to Buckingham Palace

On the route to Westminster Abbey the King and the Queen Consort will be in the newest of the royal carriages, the Australian-built Diamond Jubilee State Coach, instead of the traditional – but notoriously uncomfortable  Gold State Coach.

The Diamond Jubilee State Coach looks traditional, but is actually modern, with air conditioning, electric windows and up-to-date suspension.

“It’s made of aluminium, which is quite unusual, because most of them are made of wood, and it’s also got hydraulic suspension, meaning that the ride is incredibly comfortable,” says Sally Goodsir, curator at the Royal Collection Trust.

Matthew PowerIMAGE SOURCE,DUNCAN STONE
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Matthew Power, head coachman, says with all the crowds he will have to keep the horses calm

It incorporates pieces of wood from historic ships and buildings, including HMS Victory, the Mary Rose, Balmoral Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

Viewed close up at the Royal Mews, the carriages are an explosion of gold and glass and polish. They are basically crowns on wheels.

It means the royal couple will be spared a bumpy ride on the way to the Abbey. Recalling her coronation in 1953, Queen Elizabeth had described the ride in the 18th-Century gold state coach as “horrible” and “not very comfortable”.

One of her predecessors, William IV, crowned in 1831, described his trip in the carriage as like being on a ship “in a rough sea”.

Sally Goodsir, Royal MewsIMAGE SOURCE,DUNCAN STONE
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The Diamond Jubilee State Coach is going to be a comfortable ride, says Royal Collection Trust curator Sally Goodsir

Buckingham Palace has not commented on the reason for the switch.

But even if the Gold State Coach has its drawbacks, it is a remarkable piece of craftsmanship, with elaborate carvings under a thin layer of gold and panels covered in paintings. It may be uncomfortable but it is a rolling work of art.

Helping the four-tonne carriage to make the journey will be Martin Oates, who will be the carriage’s brakeman on coronation day.

He follows his great-grandfather who took part in the carriage procession for the coronation of George VI, his grandfather who was there for the coronation of Elizabeth II and his father for the late Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

“When you’re walking down The Mall, you do think of all the family members who have been part of it,” said Mr Oates, speaking at the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, where the carriages are kept.

Martin Oates Royals MewsIMAGE SOURCE,DUNCAN STONE
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Martin Oates’s family have worked on coronations for four generations

Head coachman Matthew Power said the “hairs go up on the back of your neck” on such an occasion, but it was important to stay calm and to stop the horses from getting nervous.

“The horses know it’s going to be a big day and you have to be the calm one and say it’s just another day at the office,” said Mr Power.

The procession will go from Buckingham Palace, along The Mall to Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall to Parliament Square and then to Westminster Abbey.

The return will be the same route in reverse.

King Charles's procession route

The coronation ceremony will use the traditional regalia, such as symbolic rings and swords, as well as the crowns, including the St Edward’s crown which will be placed on the King’s head.

The sceptres being used will include one from the 17th Century made from ivory, after speculation that it might be withdrawn because of animal conservation concerns.

The oldest item being used will be a spoon to hold the oil for the anointing in the coronation. This spoon, possibly 12th Century, is a rare surviving part of the original medieval coronation regalia, most of which was destroyed after the English Civil War in the 17th Century.

Among more than 2,000 guests expected to be in the Abbey will be 450 representatives of charity and community groups, who will be alongside world leaders, politicians and royalty.

There have been complaints about the cost of the coronation from anti-monarchy campaigners. In terms of the public expenditure, the government will not publish a figure until after the event.

Coronation spoon
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This spoon is the oldest surviving piece of the original medieval coronation regalia

Royal commentators told BBC Radio 4 Today programme the coronation will feel more modern compared to the late Queen’s coronation in 1953.

Tracy Borman, royal historian and author, said: “This is going to feel quite modern as far as a coronation goes.

“We’ve already heard about the anointing oil which the palace was at pains to say was vegan, there will be as quarter as many guests [as Elizabeth II’s] when a staggering 8,000 plus people were crammed into Westminster Abbey, and it’s also the first time in 300 years the Queen Consort has been crowned with an existing crown rather than having a new one made for them.”

Royal journalist and author Robert Hardman said: “One of the big differences this time round is you’re not going to have 910 hereditary peers in the best seats in their coronation robes paying homage…

“It had a sort of feudal feel to it… instead you’ll have 400 holders of the British Empire Medal sitting in the Abbey, so it will have that 21st Century feel.”

When the procession comes back to Buckingham Palace, the newly-crowned Charles and Camilla will appear on the balcony, alongside other senior members of the Royal Family.

Last year, for the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, only working royals were allowed on the balcony, excluding those such as Prince Harry and Prince Andrew who had stepped down from royal duties.

And proving this is a 21st Century coronation, a special emoji has even been created for the occasion.

Credit: By Sean Coughlan
Royal correspondent

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