DIANA’S COACH FOR KATE’S BIG DAY!
Kate Middleton is to return from her wedding in the same open-top coach that Princess Diana used after hers, it was revealed yesterday.
Prince William and his new bride will leave Westminster Abbey for Buckingham Palace in the 1902 State Landau which carried Diana and Prince Charles following their marriage in 1981.
Not only that, but Kate will go to the Abbey in the Rolls-Royce Phantom VI that was attacked by student rioters as it carried Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in December.
At the height of the London protests, the mob smashed a window, daubed the car with white paint and even poked Camilla with a stick through a window.
A photograph of the duchess gasping in shock underlined the panic she and Charles felt as they made their way to the Royal Variety Performance.
The car’s battered window and bodywork are still being repaired.
Kate has chosen the limousine – a present to the Queen from Rolls-Royce to mark her Silver Jubilee in 1977 – because its large windows will give the public the best possible view as she heads to the Abbey alongside her father on April 29.
She has decided to arrive as a ‘commoner’ on four wheels and depart as a fully fledged royal in the horse-drawn carriage.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom VI weighs two-and-a-half tons, is 20ft long and is one of only 374 ever made.
It is worth more than £1million and has security measures including tyres that can still be driven on when flat, reinforced steel doors and toughened glass. It was used by Charles and Camilla at their 2005 wedding.
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The 1902 State Landau was built by Hoopers for Edward VII’s coronation and, in consideration of his 48-inch girth, is particularly spacious.
Drawn by six of the Queen’s horses, it was also used after the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York in 1986.
The more famous Glass Coach, which was purchased for George V’s coronation in 1911 and used to transport Diana to St Paul’s Cathedral in 1981, will not feature.
That carriage, which dates from 1881 and has a permanent roof, will be used only if heavy April showers threaten to interrupt the day.
The newlyweds’ journey back to Buckingham Palace following the 11am ceremony will see the Royal Family ride in five coaches.
Following the bride and groom will be two Ascot Landau carriages carrying William’s best man Prince Harry and Kate’s maid of honour Pippa Middleton with their four bridesmaids and two page boys.
Two semi-state Landaus will follow, one containing the Queen and Prince Philip and the other Charles, Camilla and Kate’s parents Carole and Mike Middleton.
The procession will have squadrons from the Household Cavalry at its head and tail.
An RAF fly-past is expected, and William and Kate will emerge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to kiss in front of a crowd of up to a million.
Wedding preparations: State Harness Cleaner David Oates, left, cleans the Round Buckle at the Royal Mews in central London while, right, carriage restorer Dave Evans cleans the side lanterns on the Glass Coach