The Royal Mews provides road transport for The Queen and members of the Royal Family. It houses an impressive collection of historic carriages and motor vehicles. It is a busy, working stables which was very evident when I visited earlier this week with twitter friends as one of the first things we saw was the departure of the daily messenger Brougham, the royal mail coach that has been collecting and delivering post between Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace since 1843.
The current Royal Mews buildings surrounding a courtyard were designed by John Nash, 1822 - 5. It consists of a coach house, stables, harness room and on the upper floors there is staff accomodation.
The Royal Mews has been in it's present location since 1760 when George III relocated his carriage collection to be nearer Buckingham House which he had just purchased. The Mews had previously been located near Charing Cross and was originally a bird house for the royal falcons and subsequently became stables. During the 1300s Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of the Canterbury Tales, was at one time the Clerk of the Mews.
Jasper - A Windsor Grey horse in the stables
The royal household has both Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays horses. Only a few horses will be on show to visitors at any one time as most of the horses will be busy working when the Mews is open to the public.
Queen Alexandra's State Coach
Reflecting the working nature of the stables, the public can view whichever coaches are not in use on the day of their visit. Each of the state coaches were built for a specific purpose.
Queen Alexandra's State Coach is one of the most ornate coaches on display. It is used during the State Opening of Parliament to carry the imperial state crown, sword of state and Cap of Maintenance from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster.
Irish State Coach
This is a copy of the original coach built for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert which was destroyed by a fire in a workshop and was quickly rebuilt to take part in George V's coronation procession. The guilded frieze on the roof was added when Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1876. It is decorated with roses representing England, Scottish thistles, Irish shamrock and a palm tree to represent India. Today it is used by the Queen for the State Openeing of Parliament.
Australian State Coach
This coach was presented to the Queen in 1988, Australia's Bicentennial. The coach is decorated with the Australian coat of arms, a shield representing the six states and supported by an emu and a kangaroo.
Scottish State Coach
This coach is used when the Queen visits Scotland. It has the coat of arms of Scotland and on its roof there is the model of the Scottish crown.
This coach is most famously associated with transporting brides to be to the church before the service as in the case with Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 or the newly weds from the church as with Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.
The Mews is also home to the state limousines. When the Queen is in the car her mascot of a silver statuette of St George and the Dragon is fitted onto the bonnet. The Royal Standard is always flown when the Queen is in the car unless she is on the motorway.
My most recent visit was during the weekday when I observed much more activity. In the Harness Room there were two men polishing the brasses.
The Gold State Coach
The most impressive vehicle in the collection is the Gold State Coach which was built for George III in 1762. It has carried every monarch to their coronation since 1821.
Beautiful painted panels by Giovanni Cipriani
Address: The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace, Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 1QH
Nearest Tube Station: Victoria. The station is in Travelcard Zone 1. The Royal Mews is an easy 5 minutes walk from the station.
Opening Hours: Open daily from 10am to 5pm until 31 October 2013. 1 - 31 November 2013 Monday to Saturday 10a m to 4pm.Please check website for up to date details before travelling.
Prices: £8.50 adults including an audio tour. Please check website for details.
Please note that tickets purchased directly from Royal Collection Trust can be converted into a 1-Year Pass, giving 12 months' complimentary admission to the site you have visited. Your ticket just needs to be stamped before leaving.
The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds.