- By Sean Coughlan
- royal correspondent
The King and Queen consort will travel to the coronation at Westminster Abbey in a more comfortable and relatively modern horse-drawn carriage.
They will ride in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, first used in 2014, before returning to the Gold State Coach used at every coronation since the 1830s.
The route of the coronation procession will also be much shorter than that of the late Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Crowds can watch the procession along the Mall and Whitehall in London.
The carriage procession will be one of the spectacular spectacles of the coronation of May 6th.
It will depart from the gates of Buckingham Palace carrying the royal couple and other senior royals, traveling to Westminster Abbey where the coronation service will begin at 11:00 a.m. BST.
They will return by the same route through Parliament Square, along Whitehall, around Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch and along the Mall to the Palace.
The procession, 1.3 miles (2.1 km) long, is about a quarter of the length of the 5-mile (8 km) Queen’s Coronation of Fire return route which saw her wave to the crowds along Piccadilly, Oxford Street and Regent Street which took two hours.
It is understood that the King’s shorter route was chosen for practical reasons.
But instead of the traditional – but notoriously uncomfortable – Gold State Coach, the king and Camilla, the queen consort, will be in the newest royal carriage, the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, built in Australia.
It looks traditional, but it’s actually modern, with air conditioning, power windows and an updated suspension.
“It’s made of aluminium, which is quite unusual as most of them are made of wood, and it also has hydraulic suspension, which means the ride is incredibly comfortable,” says Sally Goodsir , curator at the Royal Collection Trust.
It incorporates pieces of wood from historic ships and buildings, including HMS Victory, Mary Rose, Balmoral Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
Seen up close at the Royal Mews, the cars are an explosion of gold, glass and varnish. They are basically crowns on wheels.
This means the royal couple will be spared a bumpy ride on their way to the abbey. Recalling her coronation in 1953, Queen Elizabeth had described the ride in the 18th century gold state coach as “awful” and “not very comfortable”.
One of his predecessors, William IV, crowned in 1831, described his carriage journey as being on a ship “in stormy seas”.
Buckingham Palace has not commented on the reason for the change.
But while the Gold State Coach has its downsides, it’s a remarkable piece of craftsmanship, with elaborate carvings under a thin layer of gold and painted panels. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s a rolling piece of art.
Helping the four-ton car make the journey will be Martin Oates, who will be the car’s brakeman on coronation day.
It follows his great-grandfather who took part in the carriage procession for the coronation of George VI, his grandfather who was there for the coronation of Elizabeth II and his father for the late Silver Jubilee queen in 1977.
“As you walk through The Mall you think of all the family members who have been part of it,” Mr Oates said, speaking at Buckingham Palace’s Royal Mews, where the cars are kept.
Chief coachman Matthew Power said “the hair stands on end” on such an occasion, but it was important to stay calm and prevent the horses from getting nervous.
“The horses know it’s going to be a big day and you have to be calm and say it’s just another day at the office,” Mr Power said.
The procession will go from Buckingham Palace, along the Mall to Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall to Parliament Square and then on to Westminster Abbey. The return will be by the same route in the opposite direction.
The coronation ceremony will use traditional regalia, such as symbolic rings and swords, as well as crowns, including St Edward’s Crown which will be placed on the king’s head.
The scepters used will include one from the 17th century made of ivory, after speculation it could be withdrawn due to animal conservation concerns.
The oldest object used will be a spoon to hold the oil for the coronation anointing. This spoon, possibly from the 12th century, is a rare surviving part of the original medieval coronation regalia, most of which were destroyed after the English Civil War in the 17th century.
Among more than 2,000 guests expected at the Abbey, there will be 450 representatives from charities and community organisations, who will rub shoulders with world leaders, politicians and royalty.
There have been complaints about the cost of the coronation from anti-monarchy activists. In terms of public expenditure, the government will publish a figure only after the fact.
When the motorcade returns to Buckingham Palace, newly crowned Charles and Camilla will appear on the balcony, alongside other senior members of the Royal Family.
Last year, for the Queen’s late Platinum Jubilee, only serving royals were allowed on the balcony, excluding those such as Prince Harry and Prince Andrew who had resigned from their royal functions.
And proving that this is a 21st century coronation, a special emoji has even been created for the occasion.
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