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Inside the Royal Train where Meghan Markle joined the Queen for a sleepover

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Royal train

Duchess of Sussex is first younger Royal to travel on Her Majesty’s moving ‘home-from-home’

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Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 1:06pm

Meghan Markle yesterday joined Queen Elizabeth on the Royal Train for an overnight trip to Cheshire ahead of their first joint awayday.

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The Duchess of Sussex is believed to be the the first member of the Royal Family’s younger generation to hop aboard the exclusive vehicle, which Her Majesty regards as her “home-from-home”, according to People magazine. The train has been called a “palace on wheels”, although Meghan “will find it very different from the castles and palaces she has already experienced in her short time as a royal”, the US-based publication adds.

So what is the history of the Royal Train, and what is it like inside?

History

Queen Victoria is understood to have been the first monarch to travel by train, commissioning a pair of coaches for £1,800 in 1869, The Sun reports.

The train underwent a lavish makeover during the reign of King George V, who added a smoking room and multiple ornate bedrooms and bathrooms.

Queen Victoria’s saloon

Another major refurbishment was carried out, with large portions of the train replaced, before Queen Elizabeth embarked on her Silver Jubilee Tour in 1977.

The old carriages were donated to the National Railway Museum, in York.

Interior

Far from the lavish excess of the past, today the Royal Train is a rather plain affair, with “simple decor and furniture”, says the Daily Mirror.

Speaking to the BBC in 2002, director of royal travel Tim Hewlett said: ”There is a perception the train is a bit like the Orient Express.

“But there are not many bathroom furnishings you could not get in Homebase or B&Q.”

According to People magazine, the Queen’s saloon is a “75ft-long carriage divided into a formal entrance hall, a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom with a full-sized bath”. This personal area is decorated in pastel shades with a pale blue sofa.

Modern-day royal study 

“The Royal Train usually travels at a lower than normal speed,” says Hello! magazine, as the train is built for comfort rather than speed. “It is fitted with secondary air suspension, meaning passengers have an exceptionally smooth and comfortable ride.”

Vanity Fair adds that the journey is scheduled to avoid sharp bends at around 7:30am, when the Queen usually takes her bath.

Modern use

According to Grant Harrold, former royal butler to Princes Charles, William and Harry, the Royal Train is generally used only by the Queen and her husband Prince Philip, and by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.

Prince William is only believed to have ridden on it once, in 2003 during his birthday tour, Hello! reports. Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge are not thought to have been on the train at all in an official capacity.

As such, the magazine adds, Meghan joined an exclusive club in taking the train with the Queen to spend the day in Cheshire, where they are opening the Mersey Gateway Bridge and the Storyhouse Theatre, as well as lunching at Chester Town Hall.

Royal family Queen Elizabeth II Meghan Markle

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