Kiwi touch to Queen's new carriage
New Zealand has at least two connections to the new Diamond Jubilee State Coach in which the Queen will travel for the first time tonight (NZT) to the State Opening of Parliament.
The 5.5-metre long coach was built near Sydney in the workshop of Australian Jim Frecklington, 64, who worked in the Royal Mews as a young man. Construction took 10 years and required the labour of 50 workers.
The coach contained relics of key moments sacred to Britain and the Commonwealth, the Mail Online reported.
Those include one of the ladders Sir Edmund Hillary used when he conquered Mt Everest with sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
Another link to this country are the gold-plated door handles, each of which is inlaid with 24 diamonds and 130 Australian sapphires, which were made by New Zealand master jeweller Mike Baker.
Along with Hillary's ladder, the panelling incorporates slivers of Sir Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic sled, Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree, Hut Six at the World War II code-breaking centre Bletchley Park, and the beams of most of Britain's great cathedrals.
As the coach is drawn behind six horses to the State Opening of of the British Parliament in London, the Queen will be sitting on a piece of Scotland's Stone of Destiny, upon which monarchs are traditionally crowned, and surrounded by a bolt from a Spitfire fighter plane, a musket ball from Waterloo, a bolt and rivets from the iconic train the Flying Scotsman and a uniform button from Gallipoli.
There's even a fragment of the bronze cannon from which every Victoria Cross is cast, and a piece of metal from the wreckage of a 617 Squadron Dambuster bomber.
Frecklington wanted to use the finest craftsmen and women from the Commonwealth.
The leather is English, as is the gold silk brocade upholstery. The lamps are glazed with the finest lead crystal from Edinburgh, while intricate heraldic paintwork was hand-painted by Irish-born Australian Paula Church.
A crown on the roof of the coach is carved from a piece of Lord Nelson's Trafalgar flagship HMS Victory and has a small camera to produce a Monarch's-eye view of any procession.