Fancy a kick, Your Majesty?  Cheerful Charles gets a toe on the ball in their latest engagement

Fancy a kick, Your Majesty? Cheerful Charles gets a toe on the ball in their latest engagement

– The royals have their own train?

Yes. The current Royal Train was commissioned to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, but the Royal Family has had its own train since the reign of Queen Victoria.

– How does it look like?

Its livery is a pristine, highly polished burgundy known as the Royal Claret, adorned with royal coats of arms, with black coachwork and a gray roof.

It has nine wagons – but not all of them are always used.

– Is the interior very luxurious?

Surprisingly not. The royal train is more functional than palatial, and its decor is dated.

Royal aides once described it as having bathroom fixtures you could find in Homebase or B&Q and the decor as “very G-plan” popular in the 1960s and ’70s.

In 2002, Buckingham Palace officials allowed journalists a rare look to shatter the perception that it was as lavish as the Orient Express.

– Who uses it?

Usually only the most senior royals – the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh before they died, and now King Charles and Queen consort Camilla.

– Anyone else?

The Corgis used to accompany the Queen – and the Queen Mother too – on board for trips to Sandringham or Balmoral.

There is also room for royal aides and servants.

– What is it used for?

For official engagements and for longer trips around the UK such as to Scotland or Norfolk, especially when the Queen’s children were small.

It allows royals to travel overnight and arrive rested for a full day of engagements.

The monarch traveled around Britain by train for her Golden Jubilee in 2002.

– Did the queen have her own carriage?

Yes. It is a private 75ft air-conditioned and electrically heated saloon car containing a bedroom with a single bed, a living room, a desk for working on the go, a dining area and a bathroom with a large bathtub.

– What about the other wagons?

The Duke of Edinburgh had a saloon carriage of a similar design, but with a kitchen, green curtains, matching chair cushions and brown carpet.

Scottish landscapes and Victorian prints of early rail travel hang in both drawing rooms.

– And King Charles?

King Charles has his own saloon carriage with a bedroom, bathroom and study with a small desk and a blue and white floral sofa to match the curtain fabric.

Other carriages include dining cars, a multipurpose executive saloon with dormitories, a junior executive sleeper with bunk beds, and a carriage for attendants and maintenance personnel.

– What about food?

Usually, a royal chef boards the train with carefully planned menus.

– How often is the royal train used?

It depends on the royal diary.

Only three journeys – two by the Prince of Wales and one by the Queen – were made on the Royal Train in FY2019/2020, but the total cost was more than £63,000.

– How much?

The cost – borne by the taxpayer – has long been a matter of debate, and the train was nearly scrapped in 2013 amid fears the rolling stock would need to be replaced.

During the 2002 Golden Jubilee year, the train cost £872,000 to run.

The service contract is also £300,000 per year and is serviced by German company DB Cargo UK.

– How much is it per mile?

It depends on the journey. In 2017, a journey by Charles from London to Cwmbran worth £18,317 cost £130.84 per mile, according to PA news agency calculations.

A normal train ticket for the same route was only £1.30 per mile at the time.

– Can’t the royal family take a normal train?

They do sometimes. The Queen traveled first class to Sandringham for her winter break.

– Then why is there another royal move?

Royal aides believe it offers the best option for safety, efficiency and minimal disruption to others.

It was the Queen’s mode of transport of choice for its privacy and convenience, and it obviates the need for an exceptionally early start.

It often runs overnight to avoid slowing down other trains, there is no need to organize accommodation for the royals and, unlike helicopters, it can be used in inclement weather.

– Did William and Kate ride the royal train?

As a child, William used it to travel to Balmoral, and on the day of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales’s funeral in 1997, William, Charles, Prince Harry and the Spencer family made the journey from London to the Princess’ ancestral home, Althorp, on the royal train her funeral.

In 2003, William also traveled to Bangor by overnight train with his father for a day of engagements in North Wales ahead of his 21st birthday.

In 2020, amid the global Covid-19 pandemic, the couple embarked on the royal train for a celebratory “morale-boosting tour” of the country.

– Who else has used it?

The Duchess of Sussex joined the Queen on the royal train to Cheshire in 2018 for her first royal engagement together with the monarch.

– Can I travel on the royal train?

no It’s for royals only.

Dignitaries are sometimes allowed to use it. Cherie Blair hosted a 1998 train trip for the wives of the G8 leaders.

– What about the engine?

The royal train is hauled by one of two Class 67 locomotives – 67005 – The Queen’s Messenger and 67006 – Royal Sovereign, both finished in royal claret livery.

They are operated with environmentally friendly biofuel made from waste vegetable oil.

A third Class 67 – 67026 – Diamond Jubilee – with silver livery, a union flag and Diamond Jubilee logo was used during the 2012 celebrations.

– So it’s not pulled by a steam engine?

Only occasionally on special occasions.

– Aren’t there locomotives named Prince William and Prince Henry?

Prince William and Prince Henry – named after William and his brother Harry – were two Royal Class 47 locomotives that used to haul the Royal Train, but they were retired in 2004.

– When was the first royal move introduced?

In 1840 a special carriage was built for the royal family, with Dowager Queen Adelaide, widow of William IV, driving first.

– What about Queen Victoria?

The Victorians believed that riding express trains could drive you insane.

But Queen Victoria was finally persuaded to travel by rail when she took a 25-minute journey on the royal train from Slough to Paddington in 1842, with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who designed the Great Western Railway, riding on the footplate.

– Has it been converted to train travel?

Yes. The 23-year-old wrote in her diary that the trip was “beautiful and so quick”.

By 1869 she had commissioned a series of private carriages decorated in luxurious blue silk and 23k gold like a palace on wheels.

– Have there been controversial trips?

In 2000, a royal bodyguard fired his gun on the train while the queen was sleeping. The bullet hole can still be seen on a table in the staff dining car.

In 1980, a front-page story claimed that a young Lady Diana Spencer had been smuggled onto the royal train at night to be with Charles three months before her engagement.

Charles, Diana and their mother always insisted the story was false.