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The Gold State Coach

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, is on display at the Royal Mews, the working stables of Buckingham Palace.

Learn about the coach with this list of interesting facts and come and see this gilded wonder up close for yourself!

The Gold State Coach

The Gold State Coach ©

1. The Gold State Coach is 260 years old

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 that of George IV in 1821.

2. It is only ever used at walking pace

The huge coach is seven 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!

3. Is the Gold State Coach made from real gold?

The coach is made of giltwood, which is a thin layer of gold leaf over wood and the interior is lined and upholstered with velvet and satin. It also features magnificent painted panels of Roman gods and goddesses by Giovanni Cipriani, rich gilded sculptures including three cherubs on the roof representing England, Scotland, and Ireland, and four massive triton figures above each wheel. 

Photograph of HM Queen Elizabeth II sitting beside HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in the Gold State Coach on their way to Westminster Abbey for the Coronation Service. In the background can be seen Naval Officers with rifles and Police

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 it on her Coronation Day

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! Most recently the coach appeared as part of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, fitted for the day with a hologram of the Queen in the coach windows.

Queen Victoria in the Gold State Coach

Queen Victoria in the Gold State Coach ©

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.

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

There are 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.

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

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