Thursday, April 02, 2009

Your Chariot Awaits, My Lady

Paying Homage To The Cinderella Factor

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Quite understandably, I was reminded of the story of Cinderella as soon as I saw this sight. I was walking through the city some months ago when this hackney carriage went past me on St Kilda Road.

There are a handful of carriages that operate in the city proper, taking tourists for rides along a pre-determined route. They do a roaring trade in summer, especially with the long daylight hours, but even now as we move into our second month of autumn they are still fairly busy.

One of my favourite stories about ceremonial carriages actually relates to the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey. I recently heard an interesting yarn about well-heeled members of the aristocracy. Apparently several members of upper-crust society masqueraded as coach attendants to serve visiting dignitaries.


So of course I went to that bastion of truth, chronology and good reporting, the BBC. I simply Googled the words "Coronation Westminster Abbey Queen Elizabeth" and found my way to Queen Elizabeth Takes Coronation Oath, where the story was indeed confirmed.

The BBC reports states: "There was a shortage of professional coachmen to help transport dignitaries to Westminster Abbey in horse drawn carriages. Millionaire businessmen and country squires offered their services and on the day they dressed up as Buckingham Palace servants and helped take people to the ceremony."

Of course, they were all well coached.


For earlier posts in this series, check out The Doors Archive.

31 comments:

Janet said...

We went to a wedding a couple of years ago. The young couple hired a horse and carriage to transport them from the church to the reception hall. Two blocks away. Of course, my daughter (DeBoy was not born yet, but was in attendance) wanted to ride the horse. Cue the tantrum.

Daryl said...

Like the glass slipper it was clear where this story was headed ...

Shadow said...

now that's the kinda door i'd happily open and enter...

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era.

Charles Gramlich said...

I suppose these things weren't so romantic back when they were the only choice to ride in.

katherine. said...

we have one in downtown...but it is no where near as regal.

Jazz said...

Beautiful carriage. We have lots of them in Montreal's old town (as they do also in Quebec city), but none as spectacular as this one.

jinksy said...

You should be arrested for pun mania - the groaning is getting louder...who groomed you for your job?

Ananda girl said...

I recall watching film clips of that wedding on our PBS channel. That really must have been something to see in person.(I wasn't quiet here yet.) Gorgeous carriage.

Nessa said...

People will do anything to belong to history.

Nessa said...

Poetry Month at Writer's Digest, David. A new prompt each day.

http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/

Sniffles and Smiles said...

You never disappoint...thanks for my daily chuckle as well as some colorful and almost magical photos!

Tiffany Norris said...

Interesting! I'll definitely put the carriage tour on our list if we ever visit.

Artist Unplugged said...

Oh wow, I first thought of the carriage used in the monarch.

Mojo said...

We have similar "alternative transportation" here, but most of it isn't horse drawn. The majority of draft animals used in such capacities here are mules. And most recently, humans. A cycle rickshaw company started up here about 2 years ago to operate within the city center, and is apparently doing quite well. In two years they've doubled the size of the fleet.

I opted for more "urban decay" in this week's installment. It's a shot I took some time back and never quite found the right use for. It's actually only a block or so from another shot I featured in The Doors (I think in #2?) and was probably taken at the same time.

The Doors #7: "3210 Hillsboro"

Eddie Bluelights said...

Nice story and as ever beautiful photos.I remember watching the Coronation on a B&W televison.
Loved the "Well Coached" reference. Wonder if could "Stage" something like that again?

Maggie May said...

I remember watching the coronation at a friend's because we hadn't got a TV then. It was in black and white.
You staged a good post there, David and I'm glad it didn't turn into a pumpkin on you!

The Muse said...

"Of course, they were all well coached."

LOL LOL LOL

introspection said...

That is a pretty coach. I love it's aristocracy. I think all women/ladies/girls love any reference to cinderella. It's one of the first really romantic story of their life and they never outgrow it.

The coronation narrative is very informative. In India (Bombay) we have these bright shining silver chariots drawn by horses and they ply tourists along chowpatty beach. The open chariot ride by the sea is beautiful though the coach itself is far from this elegant one you photographed.
Lovely pictures as usual, my Lord, Sir david.

Cheffie-Mom said...

The title is great and so is this line - "Of course, they were all well coached." LOL! Oh, and your comment on my blog yesterday had me laughing hysterically! Thanks!

Dr.John said...

I love carriages. Great pictures and great information.

imac said...

Arise Sir David, A knighthood for a great post.

cheshire wife said...

Too young to see the Queen's coronation, but I did see Charles and Diana's wedding and I don't remember the coaches having attendants. That Cinderella did find her prince but it did not last.

lakeviewer said...

How interesting! The closest we come to pomp and ceremony is at Disneyland, where we can pretend to be queen for a day. Picture included.

Sarah Laurence said...

Ha - "well coached."

Cath said...

I love the idea of travelling in one of those carriages! Very olde Englande and romantic. Or olde Australiane. ;0)

Had me chuckling through this - "...I went to that bastion of truth, chronology and good reporting, the BBC..." I didn't think I could find all those words in the same sentence. :0/

A Brit in Tennessee said...

Great story, and a gorgeous carriage I might add...
I have ridden in a white coach, with black horses, they are quite the thing, downtown Nashville.
Closest I'll ever get to being Cinderella , or "Lillibet", I'm sure ;)

SandyCarlson said...

That's one lovely, elegant, dreamy carriage.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

What a fabulous carriage! It would remind me of Cinderella, too!

Sheila :-)

C. Michael Cox said...

My daughter would be in heaven! Great idea for one of our date nights.

Leslie: said...

I've always wanted to go for a ride in a carriage - this one looks like it'd be amazing!