THE ROYAL MEWS
Address: Buckingham Palace Road, SW1
Phone: (+44) (0)20 7766 7302
Hours: 24 March-27 July and 26 September-31 October
Open daily, except Fridays 11am – 4pm (last admission 3.30pm)
28 July - 25 September
Open daily 10am - 5pm (last admission 4.15pm)
Closed: 2, 9, 16 June, during state visits, and from November to late March.
Normal Entry Price: Adult £7.00 Child £4.50
Nearest Tubes: Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, Green Park
The Royal Mews are the Queen's stables, and they're open to the public.
DESCRIPTION & HISTORY
The Royal Mews is a working department of the Royal Household and a living part of Britain's heritage. The Mews is responsible for all road travel arrangements for the Royal Family, by horse-drawn carriage or car.
Visitors are able to see the state carriages and cars used at all state occasions, including coronations, royal weddings, state visits, and the State Opening of Parliament.
The word "mews" is derived from the French "mue", meaning a changing of the coat or skin. Once indicating the place where the king's falcons were kept during their "mewing" or changing of plumage, the term now means a set of stables, often converted into dwellings. Until the reign of Henry the VIII, the Mews at Charing Cross did indeed house the "royal falcons", so to speak, until the royal stables were destroyed by fire in 1537. Henry then had the falcons removed and his stud of horses had a new home.
In 1762 George III bought Buckingham Palace and installed stables there, in addition to those at Charing Cross. In the mid-18th century the Royal Mews (stables and coach houses with living quarters above) were located on the palace grounds. In 1824 George IV re-designed the stables and other rooms, and together they became the current Royal Mews as we know them today, built by John Nash in 1826.
The Royal Mews comprises a four-sided courtyard with stables and carriage houses occupying three sides.
A Doric archway welcomes visitors into the courtyard from Buckingham Palace Road. State coaches occupy the east side of the Mews, while the west and north sides contain the very best in stables. State and private motorcars are also kept here.
Above these storage buildings are the flats where coachmen and chauffeurs live. The most interesting carriages are the Gold State Coach (1762), the most elegant and dazzling means of travel used by the royal family, used for every coronation since 1821; the Irish State Coach (1852 - pictured above), used for the openings of Parliament; the Glass State Coach (1910), used by royal brides for royal weddings; and the state-of-the-art Australian State Coach with modern technology like central heating and remote-controlled windows.
But even the rest of the royal collection of historic carriages, coaches and automobiles on display are worth seeing, and often trap transport buffs for hours. Horse lovers are torn between the wonderful Cleveland Bays, the unique British carriage horses that took Princess Diana to be married, and the perfection of the Windsor Grays that draw the monarch's coach.
Within the mews are the luxurious motorcars, dozens of carriages, and horses that figure prominently in royal processions and ceremonies.
The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace is regularly open to the public from late March to end of October, except when official duty calls: these closings are announced in the daily newspapers.
TOURS & PRACTICALITIES
There is a guided tour that shows how the Mews serves the Queen in the performance of her official duties. It departs at regular intervals throughout the day.
Website: Royal Mews