Kiwi Jeweller Gets His Handles on Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Coach
The Queen took her first ride in the new Diamond Jubilee state coach yesterday, parts of which were Kiwi made.
The coach’s first journey took the Queen to the State Opening of Parliament.
The coach is described as a “mobile time capsule” and contains relics from the past, including pieces from Scott’s Antarctic sled, one of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Everest ladders, and Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree.
Kiwi master jeweller Michael Baker made the gold-plated door handles, which each contain 130 sapphires and 24 diamonds.
Mr Baker described the carriage as exquisite, and said the handles had taken him 30 hours to make.
“The biggest challenge [was] to keep [the stones] looking beautiful and blue in the background without them falling out.” Mr Baker told the NZ Herald.
Each individual stone had a claw over it to attach it to the metal. “You couldn’t really put a price on them to be honest. The hours and the work that went into them – the actual gold plating on them was just amazing.”
The three-tonne coach, designed and built by Australian Jim Frecklington, had been planned for the Queen’s 80th birthday in 2006 but fell victim to delays and a shortage in funding.
The Royal Collection Trust purchased it and flew it from Australia to Britain in 2012.
The Diamond Jubilee state coach exudes luxury, with the seats made from Sudbury gold silk brocade, aircraft-grade aluminium wheels and armrests made from the former royal yacht Britannia.
A small video camera in a crown on top of the carriage gives the Queen a 360 degree view of the procession.
Originally published 4 June on Daily Mail