The Queen has a penchant for all things equine and a great number of British state vehicles happen to be horse-drawn carriages. They are frequently used for state visits, such as the official opening of Parliament, royal engagements, weddings and coronations.
The collection of historic and incumbent coaches, carriages, as well as a number of royal motorised vehicles can be viewed at the Royal Mews, which is an important branch of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office.
A typical visit lasts for around one hour. The Royal Mews’ address is Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0QH.
Telephone: 0303 123 7302.
The most famous coach on display at the Royal Mews is the golden state coach. The carriage, which originates from 1761, is decorated with gold leaf, painted panels, sculptured cherubs, lion’s head and dolphins. It measures a regal 23 feet in length and is 12 feet high, while weighing four tonnes. No less than eight horses are needed to pull it. The carriage was last used as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002.
Another very famous carriage is the State Landau. Built in 1902, it played a central role during the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
Horse-drawn travel is regarded as very important by the royals and this is apparent too from the latest carriage to join the collection of royal coaches, the Diamond Jubilee state coach, which was built to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It joins a fleet of horse-drawn carriages that are used on average once a week to carry newly-appointed high commissioners and overseas ambassadors from their official residence to Buckingham Palace to present their credentials to the Queen. Meanwhile, the daily messenger Brougham shuttles between the Royal Mews and Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace to collect and deliver post.
Apart from horses and carriages, the British royal family also stores their fleet of Rolls Royces at the Royal Mews, some of which are displayed.
The stables that are part of the mews house some spectacular steeds and ranks as one of the finest in existence. Horse lovers visiting the Royal Mews might find that, as the stables are very active, some of the Queen’s horses may be on duty and therefore not on view. In addition, the famous Windsor Greys and Bays, the horses that pull the royal carriages, are also frequently being trained, which is why you cannot expect full stables at all times.
On occasion, Her Majesty makes a surprise visit to the Royal Mews to visit her beloved horses. For instance, recently the Queen was joined by the Duchess of Cornwall to see the American horse whisperer Monty Roberts in action with the royal steeds. The horse whisperer staged a demonstration of his skills for supporters of the animal welfare charity the Brooke, which campaigns for the better treatment of equine animals.
Two of the horses at the stables are Aurora III and Marsa. Aurora III, a sporting horse owned privately by Her Majesty the Queen, was bred at the royal paddocks at Hampton Court in 1990 and is currently in retirement under the care of the Horse Trust. Aurora is said to have a very lady-like character and has been ridden by both the Queen and the Princess Royal with side saddles. She also worked as a carriage horse for the Royal Mews.
Marsa is a stallion who, according to the website of the Horse Trust, has the air of a creature who knows he’s a royal. Apparently a bit of a stomper, the horse has been in a number of scraps and has the scars to show it. He was a carriage horse for the Royal Mews until he was diagnosed with navicular disease, which is why he went into retirement early. Marsa has been in action on many special occasions including state visit carriage processions, the state opening of Parliament processions, Garter Service and at Royal Ascot.
Nearby Underground stations
Visitors wishing to view the Royal Mews can travel to Buckingham Palace Road by Underground. Three stations serve the Royal Mews – Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly line), Green Park (Piccadilly line/Victoria line/Jubilee line) and Victoria (Victoria line, District line, Circle line).
In addition to the London Underground, the Royal Mews can be reached by bus or coach.
By bus: Numbers 11, 211, C1 and C10 stop on Buckingham Palace Road.
By coach: Victoria Coach Station is a ten-minute walk from the Royal Mews.
There are also a few public car parks near the Royal Mews:
- Victoria Station Car Park, Eccleston Bridge, 0.5 miles
- Mayfair Car Park, Achilles Way, 0.8 miles
- NCP Car Park, Grosvenor Hill, 1.1 miles
Please note that the Royal Mews are located inside the London Congestion Charge zone, which means that you will need to pay a fee to drive up/park. Please see www.cclondon.com for further details.