London, England — Kate Middleton will travel to the royal wedding in the same Rolls-Royce that was used by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall when they were attacked by protesters in London in December, Buckingham Palace confirmed Monday.
“Rolls Royce 1,” which has glass in the back panels, is currently being repaired in readiness for April 29 when Prince William, second in line to the British throne, will marry Kate at Westminster Abbey in London.
“It’s actually designed with visibility in mind, so you actually probably get a better view in the Rolls-Royce that she’s using than a closed carriage,” Palace Transport Manager Alexander Garty said.
In December, the car was hit with paint and a window was cracked when William’s father, Charles and his wife, Camilla, were driven through protestors en route to a show in Central London.
CNN’s Max Foster was the only TV reporter allowed into the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace where the Queen keeps Rolls-Royce 1 and her other cars, carriages and horses. There, behind the scenes, an army of household staff is hard at work preparing for the royal procession to and from Westminster Abbey.
The bridal party and principal guests will travel to the Abbey by car — the State Car collection includes two Bentleys, three Rolls-Royces and three Daimlers — but will leave in carriages.
The plan is for William and Kate to use the 1902 State Landau, which Prince Charles and his first wife, the late Diana, Princess of Wales also used at their wedding. But if it’s raining, the newlyweds will revert to The Glass Coach, which has a roof.
Eighteen horses will pull five carriages on the day. The white-looking Windsor Greys, which are usually reserved for the Queen, will pull the newlyweds.
Other carriages in the procession will be harnessed to dark-brown horses, known as Bays. Maid of honor, Pippa Middleton, will travel in a carriage with the bridesmaids and pageboys. The best man, Prince Harry, will travel separately with other members of the bridal party. Charles and Camilla will travel back to the palace in a Semi-State Landau with Kate’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton.
The carriages are maintained by Senior Carriage Restorer, Martin Oates, whose family has been working in the mews for four generations.
Like everyone working in the palace, Martin has his own particular concern: “If the wheels fall off, then obviously I would lose my job, so that is a bit of a worry.” Martin’s key task on the day will be “chocking,” which means fixing blocks of wood under the carriage wheels, so they don’t move, as the passengers get in.
One horse sure to make an appearance is Daniel. Within the mews, he’s regarded as the most experienced and reliable of the Greys and has been reserved a place pulling Kate and William.
Even the best horses can be unpredictable though, and Jack Hargreaves, senior coachman, says his main concern is the crowds: “There are limited ways we can train for the crowds in terms of the resources we have, but it’s the noise of them and obviously the movement and the sights of things and flags and things like that.”
As beautiful as they are, traveling in state carriages isn’t always easy. As they move along they swing round in a circular motion which can make passengers feel queasy.
Between now and the wedding Kate will have a chance to get used to the feeling and crucially to practice getting in and out.
“I think she will wish to practice getting in and out of the carriages because obviously on the day she will be wearing a dress with a large train,” said Crown Equerry, Toby Browne. “And it’s a quite difficult event to get into a carriage and get settled so it looks perfect, but I think she’s very excited about it.”