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Golden coach fit for a queen

LONDON, England -- The queen's jubilee procession through London took place in a golden coach made 240 years ago. (Full story)

And it was only the third time the queen had travelled in the Golden State Coach; the other occasions being her coronation and 25th jubilee.

Weighing four tons, the baroque work of art on wheels is so heavy that it can only be pulled at a walk by eight horses, each of which has to give full effort.

The coach was built in 1762 for George III and has been used for every coronation since 1831.

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Normally it is housed away from public view in the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace.

The exterior is decorated with painted panels by the Florentine artist and engraver Giovanni Battista Cipriani, who was working in London in the 1760s, and as its name implies, is gilded all over.

The coach is decorated with symbols of Britain's victory over France in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) and inside is lined with velvet and satin.

On the coach's body are leather-covered braces with gilt buckles held by four Tritons -- sea gods with a man's head and a fish's tail.

The two rear Tritons carry the fasces, crowned with tridents, the symbols of imperial power.

Decorating the roof are three cherubs -- representing England, Scotland and Ireland -- which support the royal crown and hold the sceptre, sword of state and ensign of knighthood.

Measuring 24 feet long, eight feet wide and 12 feet high, the coach is drawn by eight greys, four mounted by postilion riders.

Head coachman Colin Henderson walks alongside the coach directing the team.

He told the UK's Press Association: "The carriage is on leather braces and not only rocks backwards and forwards but also oscillates, so I don't think it can be a particularly comfortable or enjoyable ride."


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