I confess that didn’t wake up at 5 am last Saturday to see Charles III travel down the Mall in his royal carriage. I woke up in time to watch a few minutes of the service when they …
I confess that didn’t wake up at 5 am last Saturday to see Charles III travel down the Mall in his royal carriage. I woke up in time to watch a few minutes of the service when they dressed him in his robes and put the crowns on his and Camilla’s heads. But I can tell you about his ride back to the palace.
My daughter Liz, son-in-law Peter, granddaughter Adeline and I had already seen those coaches when we visited the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace in London in March.
We had earlier joined the throngs outside the gates for the Changing of the Guard. It was a mob scene, but we got to hear the band play inside the palace gates. Afterward, we ducked inside the Palace Gift Shop and looked around. Strangely, there were no postcards of Prince Harry or Meghan, though the rest of the royal family were well-represented. Hmmmm. It was at that exact moment that I realized just how much of a family business this whole monarchy thing truly is.
We opted for a cheap and cheerful lunch at a nearby Prèt à Manger. My daughter is fond of their cheese-and-pickle sandwiches, a treat not available stateside.
Then it was over to the Royal Mews for our timed entry. The Mews advertises itself as “one of the finest working stables in existence.” It is there that those lovely Cleveland Bays and Windsor Greys are trained to pull royal carriages. It also serves as home to the folks that work there and in the adjacent Buckingham Palace.
We took the tour, led by an earnest young woman who explained the origin of the word “mews.” To mew meant to molt, and the original structure housed the royal hunting hawks while they were molting. A fire destroyed the mews and the structure was rebuilt as a stable, but kept its old name. George IV (yes, the one who built the Brighton Pavilion) also built the Royal Mews and it has housed the royal coaches and horses ever since. It is a busy place where the horses are trained to pull the royal carriages and wear lots of tack.
These horses also pull a Brougham coach to deliver the mail between Buckingham Palace and St. James Palace, a duty performed daily since 1843.
We got a close look at the Diamond Jubilee State Coach which Elizabeth II had built in 2014. It is a luxe coach, complete with automatic windows, air conditioning and hydraulic stabilizers which make it a much nicer ride than the huge Gold State Coach which was built 260 years ago and used for every coronation since. The Gold State Coach is 23 feet long, 12 feet high, weighs four tons and needs eight horses to pull it. It is so large that they need to remove the doors of the stable to get it out. This is the coach that King Charles rode back to the palace after his coronation. It is said to provide a nausea-inducing ride. Luckily, Prince William, Kate, and the kids rode back in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach.
The Mews has lots of hands-on adventures for kids, and Adeline enjoyed trying on livery and trying to tack up a wooden pony to pull a carriage. As a horse lover, Adeline enjoyed the Royal Mews almost as much as her Harry Potter tour. Our London adventure had just begun.
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