Fit For a Royal: Royal Families and their Cars
by Ed Scott
Did you know the Queen doesn’t have a driving licence?
It might not come as that much of a surprise to learn that someone who gets chauffeured around everywhere doesn’t have a driving licence, but even if she did fancy taking one of the royal fleet of cars for a spin, as head of state she wouldn’t actually need a driving licence.
Still, that probably may not come as much of a surprise either – what may be though is that the Queen could probably do a lot more than drive the royal fleet, she could probably repair all the cars her family owns too, having trained as a mechanic and military truck driver when she was 18.
So, if she had to don mechanic’s overalls and take a sharp intake of breath when assessing the damage, what sort of royal cars could she be looking at?
The Queen’s cars
The Queen travels to most of her engagements in a State car and there are eight limousines in her fleet – two Bentleys, three Rolls Royces and three Daimlers. There are also a number of Volkswagen people carriers, all painted in Royal claret livery.
The two Bentleys are the newest of the State cars and the ones the Queen uses for most of her engagements. The first of these is a one-off design that was created with input from the Queen herself, The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Majesty’s Head Chauffeur.
The Queen’s Bentleys are nearly a metre longer than a standard Bentley Arnage and although they have powerful engines, they more often than not have to travel at speeds of around 9mph, and sometimes have to go as low as 3mph.
As far as modifications go, the doors are hinged at the back and are designed to allow the Queen to stand up straight before disembarking – so no awkward paparazzi shots of her stumbling from her car. The cars also have some James Bond-style security features as they are fully-armoured, can be air-sealed to protect from gas attacks and have puncture resistant tyres.
The oldest car in Her Majesty’s fleet is a 1950 Rolls Royce Phantom IV that the Queen used when she was plain old Princess Elizabeth and is still in use today for occasions such as Royal Ascot.
Prince Charles loves an Aston Martin, and undoubtedly the jewel in his car-owning crown is the Aston Martin DB6 MKII he was given by his mum as a 21st birthday present. Most people will recognise this stunning car as the one Prince William and Catherine Middleton used when leaving Buckingham Palace after their wedding.
And the DB6 is not just any old Aston Martin – if there is such a thing as any old Aston Martin – as back in 2008 it was converted to run on biofuel distilled from excess wine produced near his Highgrove Estate. (This is probably the one occasion when drink driving is acceptable!)
The Prince also had a hunter green 1994 Aston Martin Virage Volante 6.3-litre convertible, but this car was only on loan to him until 2008 when it was returned to display at the company’s headquarters – probably just as well as a gas-guzzling motor is not very befitting for such an eco-conscious prince.
Royal cars from around the world
It’s not just the British Royal Family that has some serious wheels, Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Sultan Bin Rashed al Nahyan, for instance has custom-made Mercedes Benz G55 AMG, loaded with a 5.5-litre V8 engine and bodywork fitted extensively with carbon fibre to make it more lightweight and aerodynamic.
Prince Albert II of Monaco, meanwhile, has a one-off Lexus LS 600h L Landaulet, made with a reinforced transparent rooftop and painted midnight blue in a special water paint that has been applied manually by a group of coach decorators.
And, never ones to be outdone, the Qatar Royal Family has a turquoise Pagani Zonda Una with a 7.3-litre V8 engine – and not only is this a one-of-a-kind, it’s also the last Pagani Zonda Una ever made.
If you were a member of the royal family, which car would you want to drive? Leave a comment!
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