The Royal Gold State Coach suspension straps are undergoing a major refurbishment in time for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next year.
Master saddler Johan Ulvede, from Devon, has his work cut out, as the straps need a complete overhaul.
“I’ve done other work for the Royal Mews but this is the most prestigious,” he told H&H.
Built in 1792, the coach has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since George IV.
It weighs four tonnes, is 24ft long and is pulled by a team of eight horses.
On the second of two special Bank Holidays celebrating the Jubilee next year (Tuesday 5 June), there will be a “formal carriage procession” in central London, for which the coach needs to be ready.
Mr Ulvede is reworking the suspension straps, which were last restored in the late 1970s.
He has been working on it for nearly a year and it is due to be completed by November.
There are six rows of hand stitching on each of the four 4m straps.
“It’s a thorough process. The straps were deteriorating, so I’m stripping them back and overhauling them,” he said. “The days are long and there’s been a lot of stitching, but I’m really enjoying it.”
Mr Ulvede’s partner Andrea Northcott added: “It’s a man’s job – you need a lot of upper body strength. And I’m amazed his hands aren’t covered in blisters with the amount of stitching he’s done.”
This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (6 October, 2011)