State coach parks up at Holyrood

The royal coach passes Patrick Thomsons on the Royal Mile in July 1975. Picture: TSPL
The royal coach passes Patrick Thomsons on the Royal Mile in July 1975. Picture: TSPL
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A LAVISH carriage used by the royal family for ceremonial occasions will go on display in the Capital from the end of the month.

The Scottish State Coach will be displayed on the forecourt of the Palace of Holyroodhouse to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday year.

Picture; Royal Collection Trust

Picture; Royal Collection Trust

Built for the Duke of Cambridge in 1830 and used for the coronation of his brother, William IV, the horse-drawn coach was remodelled for Scotland at the request of Her Majesty.

The coach – one of several highlights of a visit to the palace this summer – will go on display from July 30 until August 28.

Roddy Martine, from Edinburgh, who has written two books about the Scottish monarchy, described it as a “splendid addition” to the pageantry of the Capital. He added: “Some 30 years ago Her Majesty loaned the Scottish State Coach to a Royalty in Scotland exhibition which I scripted for the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, along with two of Robert the Bruce’s teeth – removed from his skeleton when it was exhumed from Dunfermline Abbey in the early 19th century. It proved a star attraction. Visitors loved it, as did the locals.

“We see all the pomp and circumstance surrounding state visits in London yet the Scottish State Coach reminds us that we can hold our own just as well at such events north of the Border. This is Scotland’s very own carriage of state, sleek and impressive, cherished throughout the years and symbolic of our colourful history, though not ideally suited to the cobbled streets of the Old Town.”

Originally known as the Cambridge Coach, the carriage was remodelled on the Queen’s instruction to create a vehicle specifically for Scotland.

The emblems of the Order of the Thistle – the highest order of chivalry in Scotland – and the Scottish version of the Royal Arms were painted on the sides, with a model of the Crown of Scotland added to the roof.

The coach is normally housed at the Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace, which is home to the royal collection of historic coaches and carriages.

The Queen first used the Scottish State Coach on May 22, 1969, when she opened the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The coach also conveyed Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York during the Silver Jubilee procession in 1977.

It bore the Queen to an Order of Thistle Service in Edinburgh in 1994, and the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh back to Buckingham Palace after the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

Visitors to Holyrood Palace can also enjoy an exhibition called Fashioning a Reign, the largest display of Her Majesty’s dress ever shown in Scotland. And Painting Paradise, at the Queen’s Gallery, will feature more than 100 objects from the Royal Collection as part of an exploration of the ways in which the garden has been celebrated in art. Among items set for exhibition are jewel-like manuscripts and botanical studies by Leonardo da Vinci.