Queen’s coach travels back in time

The Diamond Jubilee coach which will be used during the State Opening of Parliament. Picture: PA
The Diamond Jubilee coach which will be used during the State Opening of Parliament. Picture: PA
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INCORPORATING oak hewn from Nelson’s flagship, timber from the Royal Yacht Britannia and a fragment of the Stone of Destiny, it is a working monument to the nation’s past.

The Queen will today travel to the state opening of parliament in a newly-designed state coach which uses fragments from seminal artefacts in British life in its construction.

The Diamond Jubilee carriage, which has taken ten years to build, boasts the customary bling associated with the monarch’s state coach.

Upholstered in gold-coloured silk brocade, it is covered in gold leaf and features mod cons such as heating and electric windows.

The lavish decoration, how-ever, conceals an amalgam of items with a crucial role in the country’s history – tantamount to a time capsule on wheels.

Fragments of Henry VIII’s warship Mary Rose, Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree and a piece from the Stone of Destiny were forged into the bodywork of the carriage, which is being used by the monarch for the first time.

The interior handrails are made from Royal Yacht Britannia timber, while a wooden crown covered in gold leaf, which forms the centrepiece of the roof’s decorations, was carved from oak from Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory.

Many of the historical items are pieces of wood which have been fashioned into small varnished squares to decorate the interior walls and door panels.

Only the second state coach to be built in more than 100 years, the vehicle is the creation of Jim Frecklington, an avowed monarchist and veteran carriage maker. He built the majority of it in Manly, a suburb of Sydney.

Mr Frecklington, who has travelled to London to witness the carriage’s debut, said: “I wanted to create something very special to mark the Queen’s reign.

“The crown on the roof features wood from Lord Nelson’s ship. In 1922, there was a major refit of the ship and I learnt the Admiralty had put some of that timber away. I approached them and asked if they would donate that piece of timber.”

Mr Frecklington used to work for the royal household looking after the Queen’s show horses. For his present project, he received initial funding from the Australian government but also used his own money.

Around 400 books of gold leaf were used to decorate the vehicle which, in a departure from tradition, has a body and wheels made from aluminium.

The Queen has seen the new state coach, which is five-and-a-half metres long, weighs more than three tonnes and is drawn by six horses.