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The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace

The Gold State Coach

6 fascinating facts about the Gold State Coach

Reading time: 3 minutes

The Gold State Coach is a dazzling, living part of British history. The iconic carriage which featured spectacularly at Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee pageant and at the Coronation of King Charles III, is on display at the Royal Mews, the working stables of Buckingham Palace.

The coach has a fascinating history. Find out more with these 6 fascinating facts.

1. It has been used at every coronation since 1831

The Gold State Coach has been a splendid sight at royal coronations, jubilees, and events since it was built in 1762 to transport British kings and queens. It was designed by William Chambers and made by the coachmaker Samuel Butler. At 260 years old it has been used at every coronation since William IV’s in 1831.

The Gold State Coach©

2. The coach isn't made of solid gold

The coach is actually made of giltwood, which is a thin layer of gold leaf over wood. The interior is lined and upholstered with velvet and satin. It also features magnificent painted panels of Roman gods and goddesses.

It features gilded sculptures including three cherubs on the roof, which represent England, Scotland, and Ireland. And above each wheel there is a massive triton figure. 

3. It is only ever used at walking pace

The huge coach is 7.5 metres long, 3.6 metres tall, weighs four tonnes, and needs eight horses to draw it. Because of its age and and how heavy it is, it is only ever used at a walking pace.

HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, en route to the Coronation of Her Majesty, 2 June 1953©

4. Queen Elizabeth II used a hot water bottle while in the coach

Queen Elizabeth II used it on her Coronation Day in 1953 to travel from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, and to return. It has been reported that Royal Mews staff strapped a hot water bottle under the seat, as the day was unseasonally cold and wet.

The coach appeared as part of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in 2022, fitted for the day with a hologram of Queen Elizabeth II in the coach windows.

Queen Victoria in the Gold State Coach (RCIN 92025)©

5. Queen Victoria wasn’t fond of the coach

The coach was also used at the State Openings of Parliament, by George III, George IV and William IV. Queen Victoria, however, was not fond of the coach and after Prince Albert’s death in 1861, only opened Parliament seven times and did not make use of the State Coach.

Yeomen of the Guard in front of the Gold State Coach©

6. The Gold State Coach is the third oldest surviving coach in the UK

There are only two older coaches in the UK: The Speaker of the House of Common’s Coach is the oldest dating from 1698 and the Lord Mayor of London’s Coach was built in 1758.

The Gold State Coach ©

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.