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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Gold coach a 'bumpy ride'
The Gold State Coach
The coach is high on looks but uncomfortable
The gold state coach took centre- stage in the Jubilee procession in central London.

As the Queen made her journey from Buckingham Palace to St Paul's Cathedral, she may have wished her predecessor George III had spent some of the enormous sum it cost on improving the comfort level.


I don't think it can be a particularly comfortable or enjoyable ride

Head coachman Colin Henderson

The 24-foot long, four-ton coach, which in 1760 was commissioned for the then-astronomical sum of 7,562, is a notoriously rough ride.

Head coachman Colin Henderson, who walks alongside the coach, said: "The carriage is on leather braces and not only rocks backwards and forwards but also oscillates, so I don't think it can be a particularly comfortable or enjoyable ride."

Distressed monarch

It could have been worse.

George VI approved an overhaul after the Second World War to rubberise the iron-bound wheels and afford at least some comfort to a coach in which Queen Victoria often refused to ride, complaining of its ''distressing oscillations''.

The coach has been used for every coronation since its commission, and was last used by the Queen during her Silver Jubilee celebrations.

What it lacks in ride quality, it makes up for in looks.

The gilded exterior sports panels painted by Florentine artist Giovanni Battista Cipriani and is decorated with symbols of Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War (1756-63).

Horse harness
A Moroccan horse-harness is prepared ahead of the procession

The body of the coach is slung by leather-covered braces, ornamented with gilt buckles held by four Tritons - sea gods with a man's head and a fish's tail.

The roof is ornamented with three cherubs, representing England, Scotland and Ireland, supporting the royal crown and holding the sceptre, sword of state and ensign of knighthood.

The coach is so heavy it can only be pulled at a walk by eight horses.

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