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Pimping the Royal Ride

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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Things take a little longer down under, which explains why the Queen's 80th birthday gift from Oz is over a year late. And while Prince Charles has been very public about "greening" the monarchy and reducing his carbon emissions, this gift to his Mum may cause some critics to gripe, particularly as it will be flown from Australia to England upon its completion at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars and, presumably, thousands of gallons of jet fuel.

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The $1.2 million State Coach Britannia, a Cinderella-like confection meant to cart the Queen along in royal parades, is being crafted by Jim Frecklington, an artisan who's mortgaged his house and also garnered additional financial support from the Australian government for the cause. But this is no retro carriage. It's being tricked out with diesel-fueled air-conditioning, electric windows, hydraulic suspension, and a BBC webcam so you can feel like you're a part of Elizabeth II's entourage. It also includes wood from one of Henry VIII's sailing ships and a piece of rock that, according to the Old Testament, allegedly cradled Jacob's head.


In addition to its historical flourishes, the 2.75 ton pleasure coach features silk brocade interiors, exterior lamps bedecked with Edinburgh crystal, and door handles adorned with 24 diamonds and 130 sapphires cut by a New Zealand jeweler.

What, no ground-effect neon?



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