Around the back of Buckingham Palace is the Royal Mews, where the King’s horses and carriages are kept, and they will reopen to the public to visit next month.

The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace evolved from the King’s Mews, which were originally just to the north of Trafalgar Square and were originally to house royal hawks. The name ‘mews’ derives from the word ‘mew’, meaning moulting, as the birds were confined there at moulting time. Stables for horses are now known as mews, even though the hawks have long since flown the nest.

The current Royal Mews is at the back of Buckingham Palace, behind that high stone wall that surrounds the palace’s back gardens. Today, the horseless carriage does most of the work, so there are rather fewer horses in the mews, and therefore, it’s open to the public to go in and have a look.

Some of the former stables now house the State Carriages that are dragged out for regal events, each in their own box with a display board explaining their heritage. Despite their seemingly reduced bling, the semi-state carriages are preferred for regal duties as the occupant of the carriage is easier for the public to see.

However, the highlight is the Gold State Coach, which is very rarely used — and this year is one such year where it will be in use, as the coach will be used for the Coronation.

That’ll involve some effort though as the carriage is so large that they have to partially dismantle part of the side wall to remove it — all told it’s going to be a two-day task to get the carriage out of the mews for the King to use. That’s partly why it’s not used that much – but the main reason is that it’s reputedly very uncomfortable to ride in.

So at some point close to the Coronation — date to be confirmed — where the Gold State Coach usually resides will be a vacant spot — maybe with a small museum-style sign saying “this item is currently in use”.

The mews reopens on 2nd March, and will be open for most of the summer — except of course for the Coronation, as the other royal carriages will also be somewhat busy that weekend as well.

Entry to the Royal Mews £15 for adults, £10 for young people, £9 for children and concessions. Children under 5 are free.

If you buy tickets online, and print them out before you visit, you can have the ticket endorsed to give you free repeat visits for a year.

Incidentally, while most people think of the carriages as being for the Royal Family, in fact, the carriages are out a lot, as the UK has a charming tradition. Each time a new Ambassador or High Commissioner presents their credentials to the Monarch, they are taken from their official home to Buckingham Palace in one of the royal carriages.

Which is a pretty nice way of starting the new job.


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One comment
  1. Richard King says:

    Taken to visit it on a primary school trip over 60 years ago.

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