If you were ever to come back to life and be reincarnated as anything, it would definitely be a horse and a royal horse at that. Mainly because you would be living in the glorious Royal Mews, England’s most luxurious and famous stables in Buckingham Palace, living the noble life and staying in top notch accommodation for all to admire. Not too shabby.
Brief History of the Mews
(Photo credit: Royal Collection Trust)
Did you know that the Mews weren’t originally made for horses? They were initially set up by King Richard II in 1377 to house his hunting hawks during moulting time (or mew time, which is where the name originated). The building, originally situated where Trafalgar Square is, was burnt down in 1534 and was rebuilt as stabling for horses South of Buckingham Palace. The name Mews was then kept by King Henry VIII and still remains today. It is considered a tourist spot now and attracts hundreds of visitors every day eager to see the carriages and open-top State Landau Coach, which was used in Kate Middleton and Prince William’s wedding.
(Photo credit: Pony Box)
When you watch the TV and you see the Royals being transported by horse drawn carriage, did you ever think what kind of horses were used? Funnily enough, Windsor Greys aren’t an actual breed. Rather they are any particular grey horse that have been selected by the Royals to join the official ranks. They have been drawing the carriages of successive monarchs since Queen Victoria and take their name from the days when they were kept at Windsor in the Victorian times and were used to draw private carriages for the Royal Family. This still occurs today and in the event of a coronation they would draw the Gold State Coach, the 1762 famous carriage, which has been used for the most prestigious occasions ever since it was built.
Windsor Greys are often used in Trooping the Colour, the official marking of The Sovereign’s birthday, in the summer time. This is an annual ceremony and even though the Queen’s actual birthday is in April, it is usually celebrated on a Saturday in June so it can be appreciated by everyone.
To commemorate the Queen’s long reign, a ceremony took place in 2014 where two life-size Windsor Grey statues, Daniel and Storm, were unveiled. The idea behind it was to showcase the important role the Greys have played in the ceremonial life of the Royal Family and the nation throughout history.
(Photo credit: Horse Nation)
The Cleveland Bay is England’s oldest breed and most versatile horse, turning its hoof to all disciplines. Demonstrating substance, stamina and activity, the Cleveland Bay was originally called the Chapman and the name was then changed following the horse’s resemblance to the colour and association with the North Yorkshire district.
Coaches were unknown until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and Cleveland Bays demonstrated natural strength and ability to pull heavy vehicles at this time. The horse’s powerful endurance was a great trait but the introduction of railways and the growing popularity of the horse meant that it started to lose favour. As a result, the Cleveland Bay was on the verge of becoming extinct by the 1880s.
The coaching era made a brief comeback, more as a pastime than an actual need, but it was short lived. By the 1900s the breed was on a decline, which wasn’t helped by many of them being killed on the battlefields during the First World War. Fortunately, the Queen gave the breed a new boost by purchasing a Cleveland Bay colt named Mulgrave Supreme in their darkest hour and the horse’s popularity flourished when Her Majesty wanted to make the horse public. As a result, this made the general public see stallion numbers rise dramatically over the 10 years following the Queen’s purchase.
As the Cleveland Bay started to grow in popularity, it wasn’t long before they started producing top quality horses in Driving, Dressage and Show Jumping and today, the majority of the horse’s kept at the Royal Mews are Cleveland Bays. They usually begin working at the age of 4 and work for approximately 15 years.
The Gala of the Royal Horses
(Photo credit: Gala of the Royal Horses)
The Gala of Royal Horses is an event created by the world-renowned riding master, Rene Gasser and it showcases some of the most stunning breeds of horses, celebrated in history by royalty and equestrian riders. The performances celebrate tradition, athleticism and grace of these magnificent, graceful creatures and they are accompanied by Spanish flamenco dancers and vibrant costumes for a spectacular display. The Unique qualities of the horses enable them to stand out from other breeds and with exceptional beauty and nobility, they are an object of admiration everywhere.