Queen Elizabeth II, mechanic, manual enthusiast and wartime driver, will be remembered for her love of Land Rovers
The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II has mourned her entire country. Despite her majestic image, the Queen was a true blue-headed petrolhead with a penchant for driving on her own, even in her later years. For us in the motoring community, his passing leaves a void that no royal (or perhaps, head of state) will ever fill. Here’s why.
At the mere mention of the word “royal” your mind might conjure up images of beautiful vintage Rolls Royces driven by Maharajas. And the queen has, of course, driven and been driven in exquisite conditions rolls and Jaguar luxury cars. But above all, we have seen her driving a modest Land Rover Defender 110 or, more recently, a Range Rover.
Even months before her death, with her health declining and doctors advising her to rest, the Queen was seen in the driver’s seat of a Jaguar X-type station wagon on her property.
Fun fact: The Queen has never needed a driver’s license, as all licenses in her country are issued in her name.
Before you think “oh, any old lady can drive,” know that the Queen was a well-trained mechanic back in the day. In fact, she is the only female royal to have served in the military, driving ambulances during World War II.
When she wasn’t performing her duties as head of state, the Queen loved to bomb in her Land Rover 110s, clutching her manual SUVs like a pro. One such story of his driving prowess was told by diplomat Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles. In 1998, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (who later became the king) was invited to Balmoral Palace (incidentally, also the place of death of Elizabeth II) for a lunch with the queen.
She was told to sit in the front seat and, to her surprise, the Queen herself jumped into the driver’s seat. Always familiar with the winding roads and dirt roads of Scotland, the Queen spooked the Prince.
“Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased when the queen accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow roads of the Scottish domain, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and focus on the road ahead.” – Sherard Cowper-Coles
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Finally, the Queen was a fun-loving monarch who motivated the people of her country and contributed to society with more than 600 charities. No other monarch on our shores or hers has ever had as much driving prowess or love for down-to-earth work cars as her, and it’s safe to say that no monarch does will ever do.
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