Royal Carriages: Traveling in Splendor

Here’s what’s in store in our article:

The Queen’s State Coach
The history of carriages
Vote for your favorite Royal Carriage
View the Gallery of Royal Carriages

Electric windows, heating, and hydraulic stabilizers: these are the accouterments afforded a modern royal carriage fit for the longest reigning monarch in British history—Queen Elizabeth II.

Atop the roof sits a crown carved from timber from HMS Victory—Lord Nelson’s flagship.

Other timber segments from the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace, and a long list of historically significant buildings are inlaid into the interior lining of the coach.

Segments related to Shakespeare, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, and others are also included.

The Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Credit Grahamedown
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Credit Grahamedown

It is, quite simply, a museum on wheels.

Taking around 10 years to build, the Diamond Jubilee State Coach is now part of the Royal Collection and has been officially put to use.

In June 2014, it was used for the first time at the State Opening of Parliament.

It is the latest in a long line of royal carriages going back several hundred years.

What’s the Difference between a Carriage and a Coach?

Just in case you’re wondering—the two terms are often used interchangeably.

The word carriage is from Old Northern French cariage, meaning to carry in a vehicle.

Horsecarts showing signs of an early type of suspension have been found in Celtic graves from the Iron Age.

Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese used chariots and wagons for warfare and transport.

In the middle ages, carriages suspended with leather or chains were largely used by royalty and aristocrats and were often elaborately decorated and gilded—and also heavy and slow.

King Mathias Coribus (1458 – 90), King of Hungary and Croatia, wanted a faster way to travel about his Kingdom.

So the wheelwrights of the small post-town of Kocs began to build a horse-drawn vehicle with steel-spring suspension that was lighter, faster and could be towed by a single horse.

Kocs is pronounced “kotch” which is how we derive the English word coach.

This more comfortable carriage became popular among wealthy European nobility.

When one looks at the variety of royal carriages throughout history, a number of adjectives spring to mind: magnificent, spectacular, sumptuous, resplendent. These are palaces on wheels—symbols of majesty and power—and perfect for making a grand entrance.

Entrance of the Emperor Franz I. Stephan and his son Joseph (II.) into Frankfurt on March 29, 1764 by Johann Dallinger von Dalling, 1767
Entrance of the Emperor Franz I. Stephan and his son Joseph (II.) into Frankfurt on March 29, 1764 by Johann Dallinger von Dalling, 1767

Pick your favorite(s) royal carriage from our shortlist of the grandest and enjoy the extended gallery of carriages.

Gallery

Queen Brysselska carriage. The Royal Armoury, Stockholm
Queen Brysselska carriage. The Royal Armoury, Stockholm
1761 Rococo state carriage used by Gustav III and Sophia Magdalena of Sweden
1761 Rococo state carriage used by Gustav III and Sophia Magdalena of Sweden
Royal Carriage. at Buckingham Palace. Credit eltpics
Royal Carriage. at Buckingham Palace. Credit eltpics
Royal Carriage. at Buckingham Palace. Credit eltpics
Royal Carriage. at Buckingham Palace. Credit eltpics
A Gala Coupé, 18th century, Brussels. Credit Carolus
A Gala Coupé, 18th century, Brussels. Credit Carolus
Charles X of France (1824 - 1830), carriage, Versailles, France, 1895
Charles X of France (1824 – 1830), carriage, Versailles, France, 1895
The Imperial Coach of the court of Vienna. Credit Vladimir Tkalčić
The Imperial Coach of the court of Vienna. Credit Vladimir Tkalčić
Grand Cornationa Carriage. Early 1720s. Hermitage
Grand Cornationa Carriage. Early 1720s. Hermitage
Gold state coach of the Royal Mews. Credit Crochet.david
Gold state coach of the Royal Mews. Credit Crochet.david
The Irish State Coach at the Royal Mews. Credit Steve F-E-Cameron
The Irish State Coach at the Royal Mews. Credit Steve F-E-Cameron
Her Majesty The Queen traveling for the State Opening of Parliament.. Credit Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Her Majesty The Queen travelling for the State Opening of Parliament.. Credit Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The carriage carrying the parents of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton from the marriage ceremony.. Credit John Pannell
The carriage carrying the parents of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton from the marriage ceremony.. Credit John Pannell
The Queen, along with the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, rides in the 1902 State Landau during a procession as part of the celebrations of her Diamond Jubilee, 2012. Credit Ben
The Queen, along with the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, rides in the 1902 State Landau during a procession as part of the celebrations of her Diamond Jubilee, 2012. Credit Ben
Landau Carriage with Figures, 1849
Landau Carriage with Figures, 1849
Gold State Coach. Credit Ibagli
Gold State Coach. Credit Ibagli
The Gold Coach with Prince Willem-Alexander, Queen Beatrix, and Princess Máxima. Credit Toni
The Gold Coach with Prince Willem-Alexander, Queen Beatrix, and Princess Máxima. Credit Toni
Golden Coach (Netherlands). Credit GALERIEopWEG
Golden Coach (Netherlands). Credit GALERIEopWEG
Gold state coach de la Royal Mews. Credit Crochet.david
Gold state coach de la Royal Mews. Credit Crochet.david
Detail of a coach at the National Coach Museum, Portugal. Credit Ricardo Tulio Gandelman
Detail of a coach at the National Coach Museum, Portugal. Credit Ricardo Tulio Gandelman
Catherine the Great's Coronation Coach
Catherine the Great’s Coronation Coach
Coronation carriage of King Max I
Coronation carriage of King Max I
Crown Prince Carriage of King Gustav III of Sweden 1763 to 1768. Credit Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armoury, Sweden)
Crown Prince Carriage of King Gustav III of Sweden 1763 to 1768. Credit Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armoury, Sweden)

Trivia

Rig—a carriage and horse.
Equipage—an elegant horse-drawn carriage with its retinue of servants.
Turnout (or setout)—a carriage together with horses, harness, and attendants.
Cavalcade—a procession of carriages.

Video

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Reference
The Future of Post-Human Transportation: A Preface to a New Theory of Networks and Operations by Peter Baofu

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