The Queen's Coachman.
The Queen s State coachman, George Payne,has just retired from Her Majesty's employ after half-a-century of service. A London journalist the other day visited the old man in the cosy little cottage on the banks of the Thames to which he has retired, and had a chat with him about the sights he had seen from his point of vantage on the box of tho royal carriage —himself in his gold and scarlet uniform, one of the features- of the .numerous splendid procession, in which he has taken part. It is fifty-two years since Mr Payne, i then a lad of thirteen, was first employed in the royal stables at Windsor. Fiftytwo years is a long time, and, as the old man put it, when a man is getting on for seventy years his hands becomes a little shakey, and the eyes rather dim, so he thought it wiser to resign in time before an accident migh happen bo spoil his record. In all the crowds through which this veteran charioteer has steered the great ones of all countries, he never had a single mishap. "What is the greatest crowd through which you ever drove the Queen; the Jubilee, I suppose?" asked the reporter. '' No, no, no ; .not the Jubilee, by any means," was the reply, given very slowly and thoughtfully, while, with eyes fixed steadily on the ground, the old; state coachman evidently saw the pageants of many years pass before his mental eyes. " The Jubilee crowd was comparatively small, because it was dispersed along the whole route from the palace, up Constitution Hill, along Piccadilly, and on to the Abbey. It was child's play to drive through it compared to making one's way through some crowds I have seen. The worst, I think, was when the Princess of Wales first came to England. T was not on the royal box, because that was before I was appointed Her Majesty's State coachman, though I have driven the Princess, and the Prince, tooj times without number on later occasions. But I had a good deal to do with the supervision of the procession, and I never saw the like of that crowd. At the Mansion House and Bank it was something terrible; the Volunteers who were stationed there were bodily lifted np, guns and all, right, above the crowd, and one mounted officer and his hor^e got under the' carriage of the Princess, which, for a moment, was in great danger of being upset. When the Queen opens Parliament in state the crowd is always bad, because she goes by the nearest,way, from the Palace to Westminster, and it is no joke to drive the eight cream-coloured ponies even when there is no crowd to make them nervous.". Mr Payne indignantly denies the slanderous rumor that the cream-coloured ponies were " circus ponies," even going so far in h's indignation.-as to say that he was a circus pony^himself if they were. They were bred at Hampton Court, brought up to town when they were three years old, and kept at the Royal Mews, in Buckingham Palace road, where their chief business was "to stand and eat their heads off." As to "Monarchshe has known," there ien'b a sovereign in Europe whom he has not had in the carriage behind him, and he retains handsome mementoes of most of them in the chape of gold watches, pins, and chains, and so forth, which they have presented to him in acknowledgment of his skill. What he prizes most highly is a diamond tie pin which the Queen gave to him on the fiftieth anniversary of his entrance into the Royal service. The Queen evidently knows how to treat her servants, and the latter are not wanting in loyalty and affection to their Royal mistress.
Permanent link to this item
The Queen's Coachman., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2463, 10 July 1890
The Queen's Coachman. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2463, 10 July 1890
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.