A division of the Civil Household, the Royal Stables arranges transport for the members of the Royal House and the Royal Household.
The Royal Stables was established by King Willem I as an independent service in 1815. In 1878 it moved to its present location on Hogewal in The Hague. Since then, the complex has undergone a number of renovations. The department consists of:
- Garage division: the Royal Stables has a fleet of approximately thirty royal limousines for transporting members of the Royal House, guests, members of the Household and luggage.
- Horse and carriage division: this division comprises a riding stable and a stable for coach horses. Nowadays the horses and carriages are only used for ceremonial and recreational purposes. The head of the division is the coachman-in-chief.
- Air travel office: this office coordinates air transport for members of the Royal House and the Household. This can vary from airline flights to flights with the government aeroplane, to the use of the aeroplanes and helicopters of the Royal Dutch Airforce.
The saddle horses, which are kept in the riding stable, are
ridden by members of the Royal House and the aides-de-camp to the
Queen (see Military Household). Most saddle horses are listed in
the Royal Warmblood Studbook of the Netherlands (KWPN) and vary in
The coach stables are home to the carriage horses, which are traditionally all black. There are two types of carriage horses; Pedigree Frisian horses and Gelderland and Groningen horses listed in the KWPN. On Prinsjesdag, the state opening of Parliament, the Golden Coach is drawn one year by Frisians and the next by KWPN horses. The coach stable also houses the royal carriages.
Most royal carriages are on display at Het Loo Palace National Museum in Apeldoorn. But the Royal Stables also houses a number of coaches belonging to the special collection.
The Golden Coach was presented to Queen Wilhelmina on the
occasion of her investiture in 1898, as a tribute by the people of
Amsterdam. The coach was designed by the firm of Spijker
On their wedding day, 7 February 1901, Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik rode in the Golden Coach for the first time. Since 1903, the head of state generally rides in the Golden Coach just once a year, on Prinsjesdag. The Golden Coach was also used for the marriages of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard (1937), Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus (1966), Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima (2002), and for the baptism of Princess Beatrix in 1938.
The name Golden Coach is misleading since the wood is only partially gilded; the rest of it is painted. The carriage was built in Dutch Renaissance style and is decorated with symbolic motifs. The coach is drawn by eight horses.
The Glass Coach was built for King William I in 1826 by P. Simons of Brussels. It is a simple, dark blue coach with a wide gold border of laurel and oak leaves. The coach's seven windows have cut-glass plates. The coach owes its name to the layer of glass protecting its ornamental border. The Glass Coach is reserved for special occasions. It was used for the wedding of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard and for that of Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus.
Built by the Hague-based firm Hermans, the Cream Calèche was a gift from Queen Emma to her daughter Wilhelmina. The Calèche is ivory-coloured and adorned with gold oak leaves. The coach sports two groups of gilded figures representing the Graces, along with a gold royal crown, a laurel wreath and a palm of victory. The Cream Calèche is drawn by six horses and driven by two postillions, one at the front left and one at the back left of the carriage. Queen Emma felt that the carriage should be reserved for special family occasions. The carriage was used for Queen Juliana's investiture (1948) and that of Queen Beatrix (1980).
The Royal Stables has a fleet of six state berlins. The name
comes from the German city, where the carriages were first built in
1662. A berlin is a covered carriage which can seat four people.
The carriages are painted black and burgundy and can be drawn by
two or four horses. The state berlins are used regularly, for
example by foreign ambassadors when presenting their credentials to
the Queen at Noordeinde Palace.
The Glass State Berlin was built by Pearce & Co. in London in 1836 for the future King Willem II. The Glass State Berlin is the oldest royal berlin. Princess Margriet and Pieter van Vollenhoven used it for their marriage. Ever since, the couple have travelled to the annual opening of Parliament in that carriage.
The carriages are generally maintained by the stable's own staff. For this purpose the Royal Stables has a team of specially trained craftsmen, including a saddle-maker, a carriage painter and an overseer in charge of the trappings.
The Royal Stables has approximately thirty royal limousines for transporting members of the Royal House, guests, members of the Household and luggage.
In 1908 Prince Hendrik bought a Renault, the first automobile to
enter the stables. In the years that followed it would be joined by
nine royal limousines from the Amsterdam-based carriage maker
Spijker. Between 1925 and the late 1950s, the royal limousines were
supplied by Cadillac. After that the Royal House switched to
At present the official royal limousine is the Volvo S80. The Royal House continue to drive Fords, however, using a variety of models, from the Focus to the Mondeo. Foreign heads of state are chauffeured around in a stretch Lincoln Continental. One thing that all royal automobiles have in common is their colour: they are all blue.
The royal limousines have a standard number plate, but also one that begins with AA. The latter plates are used exclusively by the Royal House.
Royal motor coach
In 1991, the Association of Regional Transport Services, DAF and United Bus presented the Queen with the first Royal Motor Coach. After 15 years of use, it needed replacing. The new Royal Motor Coach was made entirely in the Netherlands by the firm of VDL/Kusters. It is dark blue, like the royal limousines. The interior is upholstered in Alcantara leather, with a green, beige and brown colour scheme. The vehicle seats 25, and has cloakroom and toilet facilities.
Until 1993 the Royal Train consisted of a lounge car and a trailer-coach. In 1991 Dutch Rail was asked by government to build a new lounge car. The new Royal Train was finished in 1993. The basis for the design was the inter-city model in use at the time. The Royal Train has two bedrooms, a small kitchen and a salon containing a conference table and six chairs. Dutch Rail uses the Royal Train for the Queen's domestic and international journeys and for transporting heads of state visiting the country. On official occasions, members of the government are also permitted to ride in the royal carriage.
The government aeroplane can be used by members of the
government and members of the Royal House. The aircraft's
registration code is PH-KBX. PH is the international aviation code
for the Netherlands, while KBX stands for Queen (Koningin)
The government plane is a Fokker Executive Jet 70 which can accommodate 24 passengers. In 1996 this aeroplane replaced the Fokker F28, which had served as the government plane since 1972. The older plane had been registered under the code PH-PBX.
Use of the government aeroplane is coordinated by the Inspectorate for Transport, Public Works and Water Management's aviation coordinator. KLM Cityhopper (KLC) is responsible for operating the flights. In order to reduce the impact of CO2 emissions, KLC has been instructed by the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management to invest in a CO2 reduction project that offsets each hour KBX is airborne. This applies to flights made by members of the government and members of the Royal House. A contract to this effect was concluded on 17 September 2009, and emission-offsetting measures will be backdated to 1 January 2007.