London Memory: Horses, carriages & fairy tales

June 14, 2013

horse crossing lightHow many big cities have crossing lights for horses?  I don’t know of any except London, do you?  This is in the Hyde Park area and never failed to make me smile. It lights up right along with the little pedestrian and the little bicycle. Everyone crosses at the same time, even horses.

Hyde Park has a horse path that runs between the road and the pedestrian/bike paths. So amidst all the city hubub, it’s possible to take your horse out for some exercise.

Mounted law enforcement was a constant, a great way to see what’s going on from above the crowds. (video below)

I loved this sight and the clip-clop sound of hooves.
horse horse eatHorses are a huge part of British life and especially British pomp.  The Royal Mews is a fascinating place and provides some insight into what goes on behind the scenes of those traditional ceremonies.  The Queen, herself, owns and names all of these horses.  The stables were mostly empty when we visited, but we saw a couple of gorgeous equines. The royal horses are shy, but their accommodations are nicer than the way some people live.

mews stables

Not kidding–these are the stables at the Royal Mews. Take a look at those lighting fixtures.

mews stallThe stalls are pretty nice.  The royal horses play a key role in just about every British ceremonial event.  Get a load of the horse-drawn coronation landau, below, which was commissioned before the US was even a country–yes, back in the 1700s– and is used whenever a monarch is crowned.

coron landau frontIt’s spectacular.  Seeing it close up is awesome–“ornate” doesn’t even begin to cover it. There’s a pretty complicated method to keeping it on the road, that includes footbrakes and footmen. Oh, footmen–I love the sound of that!

coronation landauSeriously ornate.

coron landau horsesNot real horses, but you can see how important the equine set is to royal life.  When I look at this landau and the other coaches, Cinderella and all the fairy tales I ever heard as little girl come to mind. I think that’s why I have a soft spot for the monarchy and get nervous when anyone says it should be done away with. Yes, yes, I know that it’s an expensive anachronism–that’s logic.  My response is purely emotional.

wedding landauAnd no one knows this better than the royal brides who have ridden in the royal wedding landau, last used when Prince William and his wife, Catherine, wed.  Of course, dreams didn’t exactly come true for most of the recent young royal brides. Fairy tales are mostly just that.

Still, I love all the romance and hope embedded in these old-fashioned vehicles and the horses that draw them. Yes, I still believe in fairy tales.

4 comments on “London Memory: Horses, carriages & fairy tales
  1. I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for horse-crossing signs! I had no idea that there was such a thing as a Royal Mews or that we could visit it. How cool! I love seeing the wedding landau up-close.

  2. Vicki says:

    I love horses! What a great addition to British Isles Friday! Your photos are beautiful!

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