The Wedding Carriages
Published 22 March 2011
At the end of their wedding service at Westminster Abbey, Prince William and Miss Middleton will travel in the 1902 State Landau along the Processional Route to Buckingham Palace. In the event of severely wet weather, the couple will travel in The Glass Coach.
There will be five horse-drawn carriages in the Carriage Procession from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace. The first carriage will be the 1902 State Landau or Glass Coach carrying the Bride and the Bridegroom. The second and third carriages will be Ascot Landaus carrying the Best Man, Maid of Honour and Bridesmaids. The fourth carriage will be a Semi-State Landau carrying The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. The fifth carriage will be a Semi-State Landau carrying The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and Mr and Mrs Middleton.
The 1902 State Landau, the Glass Coach, the Ascot and Semi-State Landaus are housed at the Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace.
The 1902 State Landau was specifically built for King Edward VII in 1902 and was intended to be used at his Coronation. It is the carriage in most general use at the Royal Mews and is usually used by The Queen to meet Foreign Heads of State when they arrive on State Visits to Britain. The Prince of Wales travelled to St Paul’s Cathedral in the 1902 State Landau for his wedding in 1981, returning in it with The Princess of Wales after the service. The Duke and Duchess of York also used it for their return to Buckingham Palace at their wedding in 1986.
The Glass Coach was built in 1881 and was purchased for use at King George V’s Coronation in 1911. The Glass Coach has carried previous Royal brides to their weddings Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, Princess Alexandra in 1963, Princess Anne in 1973, Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and Miss Sarah Ferguson in 1986. It has also carried the bride and bridegroom from the church, as it did when Princess Elizabeth married The Duke of Edinburgh and again when Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips.
There are five Ascot Landaus in the Royal Mews. These carriages are always used for The Queen’s procession up the course at the Royal Ascot Race meeting and also for other visits of an official nature.
There are five Semi State Landaus in service. They have been used for The Queen’s coronation visit to Edinburgh, the Investiture of The Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle, The Queen’s silver Jubilee visits to Glasgow and Cardiff, and on State Visits following the 1902 State Landau. They are also used to transport new High Commissioners of Republics within the Commonwealth when they are received by The Queen.
Miss Middleton and Prince William will travel separately to the wedding service using State Cars from the Royal Mews. The State Car collection includes two Bentleys, three Rolls-Royces and three Daimlers.
The Processional route from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace runs from Westminster Abbey to Parliament Square and then on to Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade before The Mall to Buckingham Palace.
The Royal Mews is part of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office and is run by the Crown Equerry. The Royal Mews houses 30 carriage horses and has 38 staff including liveried helpers, coachmen, chauffeurs.
There are two breeds of horses at the Royal Mews, Windsor Greys and Bays (the majority of which are Cleveland Bays).
There are over 100 carriages in the collection, although not all of them are kept at Buckingham Palace.
For the Royal Wedding, 14 sides of State Harness will be used with matching appointments for outriders. All the harness requires regular cleaning and polishing which is undertaken by Royal Mews staff in addition to their other duties.