Elizabeth II, the queen who loved cars

Elizabeth II’s reign will have resembled a non-stop parade of ceremonial cars. In the back of the sumptuous Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar and other Daimler limousines, the Queen zealously served the great tradition of British automotive luxury. In addition to the consideration due to her rank, the sovereign also had a special relationship with cars.

Her eye was that of an esthetician, but what she especially loved was driving. In July 2021, aged 95, she got behind the wheel of her trusty dark gray Range Rover, recognizable by the Labrador mascot oddly stuck in the middle of the hood, to go to the Royal Windsor Horse Show to watch her run there . his horses.

Also read: Elizabeth II: after seventy years of an extraordinary reign, the sovereign leaves a lasting mark on the monarchy

In Elizabeth’s childhood, the car was never far away. As a child, she and her sister were given a “Citroënette”, a children’s carriage from 1926, as a gift. Made in France. It is a copy of the Citroën C4 powered by an electric motor and which can reach 15 km/h. The toy will be passed on to Prince Charles. For her eighteenth birthday, the princess receives a Daimler DB18 from her father, King George VI.

Eclectic preferences

At the end of World War II, she served as a paramedic in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, where she gained a solid culture in mechanics. She knows how to take apart a wheel, adjust the ignition, throw her hands into the grease and take the wheel of somewhat rustic ambulances. When she returns to civilian life, she does not need to pass the driver’s license – a document issued in the name of the sovereign. This is a privilege for the monarch, who is also not required to have a passport.

The monarch will have honored the elite of national production, starting with the thick Rolls-Royce Phantom IV of 1954, heavy at three tons

In the years after her accession to the throne, many pictures show her sitting behind the wheel, her children in the back. After the war, with the boom in female employment, the car was also a tool of emancipation for women. the sovereign reveals a weakness for Daimler Regency Express, but the manufacturer’s boss had been compromised in a tax evasion case and the brand suddenly lost its aura in the royal family.

Elizabeth then shows eclectic preferences, but strictly patriotic. She honors the elite of national production, starting with the thick Rolls-Royce Phantom IV from 1954, weighing three tons, which you board the yacht Britannia to join her on her tours through the Commonwealth. We also see her driving less exclusive models like a Vauxhall Cresta Estate, which she likes to go hunting on her land or take her corgis for a walk.

On the other hand, it places little emphasis on popular models. Pierre Dreyfus, the president of the Renault company, gives her a light blue Dauphine when she visits the Acton factory. The welcome is polite. The Austin Mini, a revolutionary vehicle lost in the midst of endlessly conservative English production, hardly inspires him.

Impressive collection of vehicles

Elizabeth’s favorite terrain is off-roading. In fact, she is much more Land Rover, the English equivalent of Jeep, than Bentley or Rolls-Royce. His favorite frame? A Defender 110 turbodiesel, a land machine that shakes its passengers unceremoniously, but can cross the worst potholes, practically climb trees and generally end up covered in slush. The sovereign happens to board her country – albeit equipped with heated seats – certain distinguished guests for a safari of discovery through her Scottish estate Balmoral.

Some will remember it for a long time, like former Prime Minister David Cameron (2010-2016), who describes an intrepid driver. Or Prince Abdullah, who had probably never been driven by a woman – then banned from driving in Saudi Arabia – and according to a British diplomat, “terrorized” by its host’s performance. She enjoyed rushing down steep paths that she knew by heart.

Also read: Elizabeth II, a sovereign woman goes down in history

Celebrated as an authentic car enthusiast (a car enthusiast) of the powerful Royal Automobile Club, Elizabeth II will have amassed an impressive collection of vehicles during her reign, valued in 2017 at £10m (€11.5m, currently). It was thanks to her, during her official visit to France in 1992, that the presidential SM limousine commissioned by Georges Pompidou was seen ready in Paris for the last time. This famous convertible, which had been gathering dust since the 1980s, was unearthed from the garages of the Republic to comply with protocol, which requires the royal couple to appear in an open car.

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