A new State Coach Britannia for the British Royal Family is getting its final finishing touches. Designed and built by master craftsman Jim Frecklington of Australia in 2007, the coach might look very traditional but has many modern innovations like independent hydraulic suspension, electric windows and yes, heating. It is also decorated with 24 diamonds, 130 sapphires and more than 400 books of gold leaf. That's more gold than any other made in Britain for almost 200 years!
Prince William is currently on tour in Australia and New Zealand. He will make time to privately see the carriage and meet with Jim Frecklington. As the coach will more than likely be used for royal weddings as well, speculation of an imminent royal engagement announcement has reignited. A royal aide was reported to have said, "He's looking forward to trying it out. Mr Frecklington's work is well known to the Royal Family. It should be shipped to Britain this spring, so it will get here in plenty of time for the Prince's wedding."
Jim Frecklington is a monarchist and regarded as the only man alive able to build this latest addition to the royal fleet of carriages. The $1 million carriage was commissioned by the Australian government and will be a gift to the Queen from Australia. It's only the second carriage built in the last 100 years for the Royal Family. You can see more of the interior in this video.
What's interesting to historical buffs like me is what else he sourced to build this coach in order to celebrate centuries of British history and heritage.
Historical wooden segments came from:
- Lord Nelson's flagship, the HMS Victory and was carved into the crown at the top
- Henry VIII's flagship the Mary Rose which sank in 1545
- the Mayflower
- Newton's apple tree
- Shakespeare's mulberry tree
- timber gear made by John Harrison, the humble carpenter who invented the first marine chronometer to determine longitude and thus beating scientists and mathematicians to the prize.
- Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower of London , Royal Pavilion in Brighton, 10 Downing Street (home of sitting Prime Ministers)
- the Canadian government's donation of a piece of wood from the ill fated Franklin Arctic expedition of 1845
- musket ball from the Battle of Waterloo
- original counterweight from Big Ben
- a bit from a Battle of Britain Spitfire and a Hurricane "Dambusters (bouncing bombs)" Lancaster planes
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