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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Samuel Butler (active 1762)

Gold State Coach 1762

Gilded and painted wood, leather | 307 x 703 cm (whole object) | RCIN 5000048

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The Gold State Coach was commissioned at the accession of George III in 1760 to replace the coach that had been in use since the reign of Queen Anne.  It was first used for the King’s journey to the State Opening of Parliament in 1762.  The coach has been used at every coronation since that time, and in the present reign has also appeared at the Silver and Golden Jubilees.  

The coach proclaims the King as Ruler of the Waves, his arrival announced by the conch-blowing tritons at the front and his presence guarded by the fasces-bearing winged figures at the rear.  The marine iconography stems from the great Year of Naval Victories in 1759, and the painted and carved elements celebrate the fruits of Peace – the flourishing of the arts and sciences.   The plate-glass windows and raised carriage are designed to maximise visibility of the sovereign himself, while the regalia are displayed in facsimile on the roof.