Before I get to the new Gold Carriage … the Queen continues on with her ‘rush of events’ … this past week the Duke celebrated his 93rd birthday with a Garden Party for 8,000 guests at Buckingham Palace … he always puts duty first … he then has had seven other engagements …
|The new Diamond Jubilee
State Carriage 2014
The Duke is the longest serving consort in British history and also the oldest serving partner of a reigning monarch … and is one of those veterans of the 2nd World War serving in the Royal Navy.
I note that the Duke has intelligently succumbed to a walking stick, while the Queen still manages without ….
|c/o What's on in London
… today is when “Trooping the Colour” takes place to officially celebrate The Queen’s Birthday – her actual birthday is 21st April – I have posted before about the military parade that has taken place in London since 1820.
This photo is ‘borrowed’ from “What’s on in London” – and shows the Guards Memorial: Cenotaph with five life-size bronze figures representing the Foot Guards Regiments (Grenadiers, Coldstream, Scots, Welsh and Irish).
The sculptures were made from guns captured in World War 1 and were modelled on real guardsmen. (see more interesting info here).
A cenotaph is an “empty tomb” or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere.
The Queen’s engagements next week are close to her heart … horse-racing at Royal Ascot (I wrote about the Queen’s Horses last year) – this dates back 300 years being steeped in tradition, heritage and pageantry …
Founded by Queen Anne in 1711, Royal Ascot features a daily horse-drawn procession from Windsor Castle to the racecourse led by the Royal Carriage, an open Landau.
The Diamond Jubilee State Coach used at the Opening of Parliament on June 4th is of a very different calibre – being brand new … the idea of one remarkable Australian.
Jim Freckington, an ardent monarchist with a passion for horses and carriage building, eventually after a stint in the Arctic, came to England and ended up at Windsor looking after the Duke’s four-in-hand team of horses …
|Mr Frecklington with 'his' coach
… from there to the Royal Mews, where he was part of the team that looked after the Royal ceremonial horses. During this time, he also drove the carriages on ceremonial occasions and served as an outrider at Ascot.
His adventurous spirit led him to Canada where he took tours through the Canadian Rocky Mountains from Banff to Jasper, but he was not forgotten by the Royal Household, and in 1977 he was invited to manage the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Exhibition, including two of the most famous Royal carriages, during its tour of Australia.
|Sydney: the gold chariot made for the Olympics
He subsequently has worked on a number of artistic initiatives for ceremonial occasions … the Queen’s visits down under, the Sydney Olympics and the Pope’s Lamps of Peace …
This true Aussie, whose family emigrated in the 1850s, was not finished … he wanted to make something in honour of Her Majesty’s great reign and something which represents Britain’s extraordinary history …
… so he set about building something even larger than the Australian State Coach at his workshop near Sydney.
|The labour of love in situ at
the Mews, Buckingham Palace
The construction was a labour of love … all the springs were hand-forged, while the wheels were cast in aircraft-strength aluminium and made by one of Australia’s leading racing car designers.
Mr Frecklington wanted to use the finest craftsmen and women from all over the Commonwealth … so the leather is English, as is the gold silk brocade upholstery from Sudbury, Suffolk.
|The oak crown with its 'coach-cam'
The carved oak crown on the roof came from Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory … which houses the royal website’s 360 degree ‘coach-cam’ …
.. the other 21st century technological additions are hidden controls for the heating and electric windows.
The coach contains relics of all those key moments sacred to Britain and so much of the Commonwealth … historic artefacts from castles, palaces, cathedrals, stately homes, Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree, Scott’s Antarctic sled …
... a sliver of a Bronze Age sewn plank boat ... three have been found in the Humber estuary ... dated about 1800 BC ... known as the Ferriby boats (we have heard that '-by' suffix here recently .. vis a vis Scandinavian words)
|A pre 1918 WW1
Victoria Cross - for
… and includes a strong theme of sacrifice – metalwork from a Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster – reminders of battlefields: a musket ball from Waterloo – a fragment of the bronze cannon, from which every Victoria Cross is cast …
The whole mind-boggling attention to detail amazes me … and really is a sight to behold and read about … our history encapsulated into only the second royal carriage to be built in a century …
Another snippet around 400 books of gold leaf were used to decorate the vehicle – who knew you could buy books of gold leaf – each booklet contains 25 leaves …
… little wonder this three-ton coach – 18 foot long – has taken 50 people more than 10 years to assemble and will now be on show in the Royal Mews – a place to visit … for the carriages, the tack room, stables and some horses …
Jim Frecklington was allocated a ringside view of the royal arrival at the Palace of Westminster for the Opening of Parliament … his next project is a tribute to horses that went to war.
|Jim Frecklington in Australia before the Coach was
It seems he has created a little historical magic with his Royal Carriage for a lady he describes as ‘a wonderful example to humanity’, while acknowledging that his mission could not have been accomplished without an amazing team.
I have not done justice to the thought, craftsmanship, people involved … in this incredibly successful project … and I would highly recommend that you check the details out for yourself …
… lead crystal from Edinburgh; intricate heraldic paintwork has been hand-painted by Irish-born Australian, Paula Church; door handles from New Zealand – each is gold-plated and inlaid with diamonds and Australian sapphires; …
|An example of guilloche
… the paintwork – ten coats of paint were used, including three of Jubilee Claret, give the bodywork a mirror finish that changes colour in different light …
… even the bolts which fix the gold-plated hand supports to the bodywork have been finished using the same guilloche enamel as a Faberge egg … and so it goes on ….
Here are a few links to have a better look:
The Daily Telegraph’s website – shows the carriage and highlights many of its delightful and intriguing aspects …
Want a book of gold leaf – or a leaf - go here!
Further information on Jim Frecklington's work - see this Australian site - and the gold chariot, made for the Sydney Olympics ..
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