September 29, 2002
In the 13th century a Royal Mews was built at Charing Cross in London on a site where the National Gallery now stands. King George III needed space for his carriages and built the stables today seen behind Buckingham House. When George IV ascended the throne in 1820, he commissioned John Nash, his favorite architect, to remodel the house and rebuild the stables. It was discovered that there were problems with the building’s foundation. These difficulties, combined with Nash’s age and poor health, led to many difficulties and delays on the project. The Royal Mews was completed at last in 1825.
John Russell was the first Master of the Horse at the Royal Mews, which is an office of high honor. The horses have eight different sets of State Harnesses. The red Moroccan harness is used only with the Gold State Coach. The leather is all of the sets of harnesses is repaired as necessary, though the brassworks are original 19th century. When I visited, several of the horses were being ridden around the yard, apparently being trained for "royal duty". Other members of the Royal Family share the present Queen’s love of horsing pursuits. The Prince of Wales takes part in exhibition polo matches when possible and Anne, the Princess Royal, was a member of the British riding team sent to the 1976 Olympics.
The Royal Mews is home today to the Queen’s cars, coaches and horses. Most of the carriages in the Mews today were built during the reign of Queen Victoria. King Edward VII was the last monarch to commission a State carriage. This was the 1902 State Landau, which was used at the wedding of the Prince of Wales. The most magnificent of the coaches I viewed was the Gold State Coach. This coach has been used for every coronation since 1821.
On my first visit to the Mews, there was a display of family pictures, some of which showed various members of the Royal Family on horseback. It seemed on this visit that the entire exhibit was more polished and lacking some of the personal touches I remembered from before, though perhaps this is due to it being the Golden Jubilee.
Admission: About $8 (US)(Guidebook extra)
From journal Golden Jubilee London