The Royal Family
have a long tradition of ceremony and pomp, ostentatious
parades and promenades have always been an important part of their popularity. Even today they rely heavily on this, Queen Elizabeth II
’s Golden Jubilee
weekend has involved several parades involving thousands of horsemen, carriages and coaches. The most grandiose of the Queen’s carriages is The Gold State Coach
, built in 1762 for King George III
; it has been used at every coronation since. The Gold State Coach is completely gilded and decorated with gold panels on the outside, it weighs four tons and needs eight large, horses to pull it.
The Queen’s coaches, carriages and horses all reside in the Royal Mews
, her stables in Central London. The stables house around thirty horses and a permanent display of coaches including the Australian State Coach and the Glass Coach, a beautiful glass carriage used for state weddings. The Mews have a staff of almost 200 people and are open to visitors. They also house a riding school, which was opened by Queen Victoria
in 1855, Victoria maintained the school, at her own cost, to teach the children of the Royal staff to ride.
Although the Royal Mews hold many fine horses, the Queen is well known as a horse breeder and lover, the horses that pulled the Queens Gold State Coach at her coronation weren’t actually hers. The huge weight of the coach made it too heavy for any of the Royal thoroughbred
s to pull so horses were borrowed from theVaux Brewery
in Sunderland. The brewery was established in 1837 and the huge Shire horses that pulled the Queens coach pulled dray
s around Sunderland
until the brewery’s closure in 1999. The Shire horses, which can be above 17 hands high, weigh up to a ton; they were ideal for pulling the heavily laden drays with their loads of barrels, and also for the eight ton gilt carriage.
And that is how a brewer’s horse pulled the queens carriage.
Thanks to the official website of the British Royal family, www.royal.gov.uk, and HeavyHorseWorld.co.uk for info on horses. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the borrowing of the horses documented on-line, however, its been a family story for years and I've heard it from several local people who remember this, so I'm pretty sure its correct.