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While everyone is talking about the Prince Henry and Kate’s royal wedding dress, food and jewelry, I am more concerned with the details about the Royal Wedding Horse Carriage. I have painted horse and carriage paintings throughout my career and the Royal Wedding inspires me to add more horse art to my collection.
The word “mews” derives from the old French word “mue,” meaning a changing of coat or skin. In the Middle Ages, a “mews” was where the king kept his falcons while they were mewing or molting. The earliest Royal Mews was built in 1377 at Charing Cross, however that building was destroyed by a fire in 1534, and rebuilt as a stable keeping its old name, but with a new function. In 1762, King George III bought Buckingham Palace. In 1824, the mews there was redesigned into what we see today.
The dress of the coachman is known as “Liveries,” of which there are four styles from Scarlet, Full State, Black and Semi State. Semi State will be worn for the Royal Wedding. The job as coachman will be a bit different for the royal occasion since there is no box or seat for the coachman to drive from. So instead of sitting up front and driving the horses, the two coachmen will be seated behind the coach, in what is called the jump seat, which got its name because the coachman can jump on and off quickly in order to reach the horse’s head in a timely manner.
The postillions, like the coachmen, have their own four styles of liveries; the Ascot, Semi-State (for the Royal Wedding), Full State and Black Liveries. There are several differences between the coachmen and postillion dress. The most obvious difference is the addition of a leather guard on the outside of the right boot. Since the job of the Postillion is to drive the coach from the near horses, the boot guard acts as padding to protect the rider from the far horse where he is seated.
The Royal Harness
The harness room at the Royal Mews is probably the finest in existence. There are several different sets of harness to fit the appropriate occasion. The historic State Harness, also known as the Coronation Harness, weighs about 110 pounds and is very richly ornamented with guilt ormolu. The Postillion Harness will be used for the Royal Wedding, and it is now going through the polishing process to ensure it is perfect for the big day.
Note: This is the second blog I have written about the royal wedding horse and carriage details. Click here to read the first blog.
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