Welcome to the second post in the series Royal Wedding Wednesday A Lovely Carriage Makes for a Lovely Marriage. Today we will cover how non-royal and royal brides arrive to and leave after a royal wedding.
Royal Wedding Wednesday A Lovely Carriage Makes for a Lovely Marriage
When the Duchess of Cambridge married the heir to the throne, Prince William, she broke with centuries of tradition and arrived at Westminster Abbey in a car versus a horse-drawn carriage.
But thankfully the happy couple left the wedding in a beautiful carriage.
The decision for the Royal family to arrive by car for the Cambridge’s wedding was actually a cost-cutting measure. England, like the United States, was in the midst of a financial depression. Rather than flaunt excess wealth, the decision was made based on Prince William’s promise to make it “The People’s Wedding”. After all, the U.K. footed the wedding bill in much the same manner that the U.S. funds any presidential inaugural festivities. But the Duchess didn’t arrive in just any car. It was a Rolls Royce Phantom VI. Other cars in the royal garage are:
The Queen’s Golden Jubilee 2002 Bentley.
Other Rolls Royce’s, including the Phantom IV.
This was the car used when Sophie Rhys~Jones married Prince Edward in 1999.
Cars can indeed be quite lovely and elegant. Princess Grace not only arrived at her wedding in a car but also left the church in a Rolls Royce.
Her wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco was truly one to remember.
Carriages and Coaches
Carriages and coaches are very expensive to maintain. A carriage is open and generally has one driver. A coach is generally closed and the team of horses is controlled by coachmen. The back of the coach is attended to by footmen. Besides the restoration work that many of the antique carriages require, the Queen’s horses, Windsor Greys, are also quite costly to keep. The Queen is shown here in an Ascot Landau Carriage.
When entertaining heads of state and for the opening of Parliament, the Queen often selects the Australian State Coach. It was presented by the Australian people on the occasion of the Australian Bicentennial in 1988. It was built by W. J. Frecklington. The coach is quite modern in that it features heating, electric windows, and hydraulic stabilizers.
A newer, similar coach is the Britannia coach. The black and gold jewel-encrusted coach was a gift from Jim Frecklington (who also built the Australian State Coach) and the Australian people, to the Queen on the occasion of her 80th birthday. The door handles feature 130 sapphires and 24 diamonds. It is also a traveling time capsule of sorts as it contains material from Britain’s historic buildings, ships and other artifacts that were incorporated into its construction.
A Gilded Gem
I myself would like to take a ride in the Gold State Coach. It was built in 1762 by the London workshop of Samuel Butler for the coronation of George IV. The coach has been used in the coronation ceremony of every subsequent British monarch, some jubilees, and a few royal weddings.
There are three cherubs on the roof (which represent England, Ireland and Scotland) and four Tritons (Greek Gods) at each corner to represent Britain’s imperial power.
The panels and doors of the coach feature artwork painted by Giovanni Cipriani.
Prince Harry’s Wedding
We will probably not see the gilded coach at Prince Harry’s upcoming wedding. It weighs four tons, is hard to maneuver, and is delicate due to its advanced age. I also imagine that once again the royal family will want to downplay any excess. The coach will more than likely remain at the Royal Mews (Buckingham Palace’s stables) where it is on display to the public. Her Majesty, the Queen, will probably once again arrive by car and leave in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach.
As for the bridegroom, I have a suspicion he and his bride will follow in the footsteps of his brother, Prince William and his bride, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Prince Harry will choose to leave the church, with Megan, in the same carriage his parents used at their wedding.
The 1902 State Landau carriage was built for King Edward VII’s coronation.
In the event of rain, the Glass Coach will probably be used by the couple. It was built in 1881 and was purchased for use at King George V’s Coronation in 1911.
It is similar in look to the Queen’s Australian State Coach and the Diamond Jubilee State Coach but does not have modern conveniences or elaborate gilded embellishments on the roof.
An Iconic Coach
The Glass Coach also has historical significance for Prince Harry as it carried his mother, Lady Diana Spencer, to her wedding in 1981. Indeed the coach has carried many Royal brides to their big days. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923 (the Queen mum), Princess Alexandra in 1963 (first cousin of the Queen), Princess Anne in 1973 (daughter of the Queen), and Miss Sarah Ferguson in 1986 (former daughter in law of the Queen).
It has also carried many brides and bridegrooms from the church such as when Princess Elizabeth married The Duke of Edinburgh and again when Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips.
There is also the Irish State Coach built in 1851 by John Hutton & Sons of Dublin. It was a favorite of Queen Victoria’s.
There are a total of five Semi-State Landaus at the Royal Mews. Prince Charles rode in one with the bride’s parents at William’s wedding.
Other immediate family members will also leave the church in one of the five Semi-State Landaus. They generally have the coat of arms of a particular family member riding in the Landau.
More subdued Ascot Landau Carriages will carry the remaining wedding party.
There are a total of five of the Ascot Landau Carriages used for such processions.
Other enclosed coaches kept at the Royal Mews include the Scottish State Coach. It was built in 1830 for Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge. Later on, it was sold to William Coutts Keppel, 7th Earl of Albemarle. In 1920 it was returned to the royal family when it was presented as a gift to Queen Mary by the Keppel family.
I hope to someday visit the Royal Mews.
How about you, do you like a coach, carriage or car?