Gold State Coach to have starring role at Platinum Jubilee Pageant procession

It will be the first time the intricately-decorated 260-year-old coach has appeared on the streets of London for 20 years.

Laura Elston
Friday 06 May 2022 15:00
The Queen gives a wide smile for the crowd from her carriage as she leaves Westminster Abbey, London, after her Coronation (PA)
The Queen gives a wide smile for the crowd from her carriage as she leaves Westminster Abbey, London, after her Coronation (PA)

The Gold State Coach is to lead the Platinum Jubilee Pageant procession, evoking the image of a young Queen waving from in its windows on her Coronation Day using archive footage.

Film recorded on June 2 1953 as the monarch travelled in the coach on the day she was crowned will be shown using advanced technology on the remodelled windows of the opulent 18th century carriage on the final day of the festivities in June.

It will be the first time the intricately-decorated 260-year-old Gold State Coach, which was built in 1762, has made an appearance on the streets of London for 20 years, since the Golden Jubilee.

Made of giltwood, a thin layer of gold leaf over wood, it is seven metres long, weighs four tonnes and is 3.6 metres tall, and because of its weight and suspension is only ever used at a walking pace.

Drawn by eight Windsor Grey horses, the grand carriage, led by the Mounted Band of the Household Cavalry, will begin the spectacular carnival Pageant finale on Sunday June 5 as the procession makes it way along a 3km route.

The bells of Westminster Abbey will peel just as they did on Coronation Day.

Adrian Evans, Pageant Master said: “Everywhere you look, in the golden sculptures and painted panels, in the uniforms of the postillions, grooms, footmen, attendants and mounted guards, there is rich tradition and history.

“It will be a unique spectacle that we are privileged to be opening the Pageant with it will set the tone for the very many spectacular sights to come.”

The coach, the third oldest surviving coach in the UK, only ever carries the sovereign, although it has previously taken part in pageants with no passengers.

But the Queen, now 96, will not travel in it during these Jubilee celebrations, with the film footage instead seeking to recreate her Coronation Day 69 years ago.

For her Coronation, the Queen used the coach to travel from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, and to return.

She was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, in the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet.

Royal Mews staff strapped a hot water bottle under the seat, as the day was unseasonably cold and wet.

The return route from the Abbey was extended, allowing as many people as possible to see the Queen, now wearing the Imperial State Crown.

The monarch left the Abbey carrying the orb and sceptre, and inside the coach special supports had been created for them.

The procession took 45 minutes to pass any one given point.

Crowds lining the street as the Queen rides in the Gold State Coach from Buckingham Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral (Barry Batchelor/PA)

At the Jubilees of 1977 and 2002, the Queen and Philip travelled in the coach to a Service of National Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The elaborate coach features, above each wheel, a massive triton figure in gilded walnut wood to represent the spreading of the news of good government, and the main body is gilded wood, carved to represent palm trees framing the doors and windows.

Paintings include Roman gods and goddesses representing human skill and endeavour feature,

These include the Arts, Sciences, Virtue, Security, and the harvest goddess Ceres setting light to weapons in a sign of peace and prosperity overcoming war.

The front panel includes a figure of Britannia sitting on the banks of the river Thames, with the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral just visible in the city.

On the roof is a giltwood carving of the British Imperial crown being held by three putti representing England, Scotland and Ireland.

More than 10,000 people are taking part in the staging of the ambitious Pageant, which will process through the streets in four acts.

A musical tribute led by Ed Sheeran, puppet corgis causing chaos along The Mall and a giant 3D wire bust of the Queen will feature as part of the “once in a lifetime” experience.

Up to a billion across the globe are expected to watch the televised end to the Jubilee weekend.

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