For her first ride as Princess Catherine, she'll be in a 109-year-old State Landau with Prince William

By Simon Perry
Updated March 21, 2011 08:00 PM
Credit: Dominic Lipinski/Abaca

For Kate Middleton, her carriage awaits! And what a grand carriage it is, too.

The horse-drawn coach that will transport her from Westminster Abbey for her first ride as a princess is one fit for a queen – quite literally. The 109-year-old State Landau that has been set aside for Kate and Prince William is the one used mostly by Queen Elizabeth when she is entertaining visiting heads of state.

And, being open-topped, the carriage (which was built for King Edward VII) will give well-wishers a great view of the happy couple as they are taken to Buckingham Palace for the first of their wedding day parties.

Come rain or shine, the palace has a plan. If heavy rain fills the London skies April 29, the couple will instead get to ride in the famous glass Coach, which was used by Princess Diana on her wedding day 30 years ago.

Both carriages were unveiled at Buckingham Palace Monday. So was the car chosen to will bring Kate and her father Michael Middleton to the Abbey: The same Rolls Royce Phantom VI that was attacked by rioters when it was carrying Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, to an event in December.

At the Royal Mews beside the palace, workers were busy preparing it for the big day. Crown Equerry Colonel Toby Browne, who heads the Mews, told reporters, “It’s not extensive, it’s just minor damage following the incident before Christmas. It will be ready in time. One of the problems [is] it’s such a special car [and] there are details that have to be reproduced and are not available off the shelf.”

After the ceremony, which will last about an hour, William and Kate’s landau will lead a procession of five coaches carrying the Maid of Honor (Kate’s sister, Pippa), Best Man Prince Harry and the young pages and bridesmaids. One coach will carry Kate’s parents, Carole and Michael, and Prince Charles and Camilla, and another will seat the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.