You don’t have to love the Royals or even to like them but if you love the history and the pageantry often associated with them you will thirst for the good old days of Royal Weddings this April 29. Not only costs but also security have dictated that most wedding guests will travel to and from the Abbey by hired motor coach or van. Prince William, Catherine Middleton, the Queen and Prince Philip and Prince Charles and Camilla will travel by Rolls Royce. Charles has said he will not arrive at his son’s wedding in a van. The bride and groom will leave the Abbey and return to Buckingham Palace in the open carriage that carried Charles and Diana following their nuptials. It has been restored for the wedding of their son.
The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 saw perhaps the last Royal grand procession down the Mall as she and Prince Philip made their way to St. Paul’s Cathedral in the coronation coach. Ironically the coach was ordered up by George III at the time of the American Revolution – another period of civil unrest for Britain. How grand was this “parade”?
he first ever parade of all Her Majesty’s bodyguards was held during the Golden Jubilee. It was the first time in their centuries-old history that they had gone on parade together. The 300-strong Parade included detachments from the Gentlemen at Arms (created by King Henry VIII in 1509), the Yeoman of the Guard (created by King Henry VII in 1485) and the Yeoman Warders (one of the oldest corps in the world dating back probably to the eleventh century and based at the Tower of London). [
Family members were in carriages with The Princess Royal, Princes Ann and Prince Charles riding in uniform just behind the Queen's coach. In front and in back of the Queen were various regiments.
And as the royal party rounded the circle in front of Buckingham Palace to enter the Mall, the Royal Philharmonic and a choir were positioned at the curb under a large marquee. They sang "Zadok the Priest" the coronation anthem that rings out in the Abbey when the crown is actually placed on the head of the Queen or King.
Imagine the cost and the organization of this spectacle. Yet with all this, following the service, the Queen took a new maroon Rolls to luncheon; the other family members traveled by motor coach. It was the beginning of the end of elaborate pageantry.
As it is, all of the beautiful red and gold livery worn by the horsemen and footmen attached directly to the Queen's coach have been handed down for generations. They are repaired but rarely replaced. It is a labor of love to maintain them.
In forcing even tighter security than before, the various terrorists or protest groups have won a great victory. They have deprived us of our spectacle - something we look forward to every so often. It will be a sad day at the Royal Mews when the horses die of old age and are not replaced and the carriage house becomes a museum. Certain sectors of society are pushing traditional Royal Weddings farther into the past at a rate faster than imagined. [see On My Watch for importance of the wedding of Charles and Diana here.]
It will be interesting to see what the procession to the Abbey will look like in 2012 when Queen will celebrate her Diamond Anniversary. Vivat, Regina Elizabetha - Long live Queen Elizabeth.
Key scenes from the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II:
1. First part of the procession from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul’s Cathedral
2. Procession within St. Paul’s Cathedral featuring the processional “I Was Glad” played at the Queen’s coronation as she walked down the aisle of the Abbey.
3. Best version of God Save the Queen during the service preceding the recessional, a national favorite, also played at Charles and Diana’s wedding.