When it comes to cars, while The Queen is most often pictured chauffeur-driven to Royal engagements, Her Majesty also likes to get behind the wheel. The British Monarch, who celebrates 70 years of service this year, continues to drive herself when out of the public eye.
Her fondness for the motor car is thought to have been firmly rooted during the Second World War, when the Queen was a driver and mechanic in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service.
To this day, it is believed that the Queen does not hold a driving licence. In a peculiar quirk, she is said to be the only driver in the country who is not required to have one.
More often than not, driving takes place when Her Majesty is at the Royal family’s Windsor residence, or at Balmoral, a 50,000 acre estate near Ballater, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
During Her Majesty’s historic reign, cars have come in all shapes and sizes, and not all have been as grand as one may imagine. But the common theme is they’ve all been built in Britain.
As we celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, these are the best of the Royal cars.
The styling of the £160,000 4×4 may have caused controversy but that didn’t seem to deter the Queen. “We have reserved the number one car for her,” Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer reported of the luxury British car, which was launched in 2015 in, er, Germany. The Queen was said to be impressed with its capability after testing it around the Balmoral Estate.
Daimler Super V8 LWB
With its bespoke handbag holder, controls for hidden blue strobe lights and phone fittings to enable direct contact with Downing Street, the Daimler Super V8 could only ever belong to one well-known lady driver. For three years, from 2001, this Daimler was the Queen’s personal car, used around Windsor Estate and Buckingham Palace.
Jaguar X Type Estate
When in residence at Windsor Castle, in Berkshire, the Monarch enjoys driving herself to church along the Long Walk, which runs through Windsor Great Park. Last year, The Queen was forced to take to the grass when a young family didn’t hear her approaching in her Jaguar X-type estate.
Land Rover Defender
Land Rovers and Range Rovers of all shapes and sizes have been driven by the Queen. She is thought to have owned about 30 Land Rovers over her 70-year reign, from Series I models to the new Defender and a number of plush Range Rovers.
But it is the original Land Rover, which later became known as the Defender, which appears to have earned the greatest admiration of Her Majesty. A favorite is said to have been a 2002 Defender 110, featuring TD5 diesel engine, raised suspension and heated seats, and was used extensively for shooting parties.
Her Majesty may like the ruggedness of a Land Rover but she’s also partial to the comfort of a Range Rover. She owns a Range Rover LWB Landaulet, a stretched, open-top version used during parades, and until recently (due to failing health) enjoyed driving the model pictured above, which is fitted with Her Majesty’s personal bonnet mascot: a labrador carrying a pheasant in its mouth.
It’s thought The Queen has now taken delivery of a new Range Rover, which launched earlier this year, after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were photographed using the all-new model for their travels in Ireland this March.
Auxiliary Territorial Service Ambulance
In 1945, The Queen (then Princess Elizabeth, of course), aged 18, joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service as an honorary second subaltern. She trained as a driver and mechanic, and is pictured here beside a military ambulance.
Rolls Royce Phantom VI
This car was presented to The Queen in 1978 for her Silver Jubilee by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. It still resides in the Royal household, and was used for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, and most recently by Prince Charles as he stood in for The Queen at the State Opening of Parliament. It features a 6.75-litre V8 with about 220bhp.
Two of these Rovers reside at the Heritage Motor Center in Gaydon, Warwickshire, both owned and driven by Her Majesty. The Grand Tour’s James May once took one for a test drive, only to be left bitterly disappointed to find there was no tin of boiled sweets in the glovebox:
“In my own car, I keep a tin of boiled travel sweets,” he wrote. “On the lid is a little crest and the words ‘By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen’. I’ve always understood this to mean that these are The Sweets the Queen Herself Eats On The Long Haul Up To Balmoral. That, in fact, is why I buy them. But in the center console of the Queen’s car? Nothing.”
Vauxhall Cresta Estate
Proving Her Majesty doesn’t require luxury cars all the time, here she is seen driving her Vauxhall Cresta Estate, circa 1980. Vauxhall remains a Royal Warrant Holder. The Queen has also been seen driving an Omega and Insignia.
Bentley State Limousines
The Queen has two Bentley official state cars ready for service. One was presented to her by a consortium of British-based car manufacturing and service companies for The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, and the second was added after being upgraded from the prototype.
Based on the Arnarge, the car brand’s full-size limo that was replaced by the Mulsanne, The Queen’s versions are even longer and taller, and feature armored bodywork painted in claret and black. They also have puncture-resistant tires and blue flashing lights.