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Mythical cars (1/5): the Bentley of the Queen of England


Does Elizabeth II have more cars than hats? That is the question. Of the two, she has many, but the exact number is unknown. The only certainty: the colors of its vehicles are – thank God – less eccentric than those of its bibis (lemon yellow, pistachio green, cherry red… a real list of ice cream flavors). Finally, she chooses both carefully, depending on the occasion.

For his official activities, Her Gracious Majesty of 94 wears a headdress matching her dress, in the best English taste. And for related trips, it sits in the back of a Bentley State Limousine, with driver and bodyguard at the front. It goes without saying that this vehicle is made in England, in Crewe to be exact, even though Bentley was bought by the German Volkswagen. Unfortunately, no English brand is anymore. Rolls Royce and MINI belong to German BMW, Jaguar and Land Rover to Indian Tata Motors… But back to the queen’s limousine. It is not just any Bentley – if we dare say it – within the reach of any wealthy person, nor even a Mulsanne, the biggest car of the British brand – 312,000 euros price catalog.

So British

Her limo is a unique model designed especially for her, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of her reign (golden jubilee) in 2002. Please note, we are in Great Britain, so nothing is like elsewhere. This unique model exists in… two copies, identical in every way. The other owner? The Queen ! Don’t ask why, it’s a charming quirk so British among others: the English drive on the left, count in feet, invented pudding, Brexit …

To complicate matters, it is impossible to tell the binoculars apart. The vehicles of the sovereign are in fact exempt from registration plates.

In the royal Bentley, in December 2019 (ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)

Without wanting to take for Stéphane Bern, undisputed specialist in crowned heads and historical monuments (the Queen of England belonging to both categories), we can assure, without sycophancy, that Elizabeth II makes good use of her Bentley State Limousine. How many weddings, baptisms, funerals, masses (the queen is the head of the Anglican Church), receptions with ambassadors, kings, princes, presidents, tyrants, dictators… has she indeed gone with these cars?

For the queen, her limo is a bit like our Citroën C1 or the metro, a daily means of transport to go to the turbine. But it’s impossible to know the price of your Navigo pass. Who says unique model, says undisclosed price. On the technical side, however, we know a little more.

6.22 meters, 4 tons

Unlike other bespoke Bentleys which are based on production vehicles, this model is a creation of Mulliner, the manufacturer’s personalization division, the equivalent of the haute couture branch of Dior or Chanel. Mulliner started out with the Arnage, an older model of Bentley limousine, but with so many modifications that the State Limo is nothing like him. It measures 6.22 meters long (one more than the Arnage), 2 meters wide and weighs… 4 tons, armor against fire, chemical and biological attacks oblige. It is not known if the coronavirus is on the list …

Equipped with a twin-turbo V8 engine of over 400 horsepower and 835 N / m of torque, it can reach speeds of 209 km / h. The elephant can run like a jaguar! In fact, with the queen on board, the driver never presses the mushroom. Otherwise, you can imagine the heads of onlookers with their little flag… The primary quality of this limousine is precisely that it can drive smoothly. At less than 15 km / h, the driver moves forward without stalling (that’s better) or shaking his passengers.

Elizabeth II with the King of Spain Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, in June 2019, during the king's elevation to the title of Knight of the Order of the Garter.  (STEVE PARSONS / AFP)

Elizabeth II with the King of Spain Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, in June 2019, during the king’s elevation to the title of Knight of the Order of the Garter. (STEVE PARSONS / AFP)

Another strong point: to allow Elizabeth II to get out of the vehicle “Worthily” – in the words of the manufacturer – the roof (with panoramic view) has been raised. The queen can thus stand inside. Fortunately, she did not reach the height of the King of Spain (1.97 m) but only 1.63 m (excluding hat), otherwise her Bentley looked like a coach.

Finally, the mechanism for opening the doors at the rear has been modified so that they can open widely. No ridiculous contortions for His Majesty, that’s a minimum.

Three Rolls-Royces, three Daimlers …

The queen’s other state cars do not benefit from such facilities. They remain, moreover, completely acceptable. There are three Rolls Royces, three Daimler Jaguars, another Bentley and a Range Rover LWB Landaulet.

This large personalized convertible, delivered to the crown in 2015, is perfect for military parades, which the queen, chief of the armies, does not miss, despite her age.

In 2016, the Queen of England in Range-Rover Landaulet during the parade celebrating the centenary of the Corps of Royal Engineers in Chatham.

In 2016, the Queen of England in Range-Rover Landaulet during the parade celebrating the centenary of the Corps of Royal Engineers in Chatham.

The Queen often rides in one of its thirty Land Rovers 4×4 (yes, thirty) for its unofficial trips. And in her estate in Sandringham, wearing a large scarf and wearing a kilt, the nonagenarian even continues to drive them. The one who has never passed her license – another road privilege: she is exempt from it – but learned to drive trucks in a military training center in 1945, has always loved driving.

Elizabeth II driving a Range Rover on her way to the annual Royal Family Horse Show in May 2019 (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

Elizabeth II driving a Range Rover on her way to the annual Royal Family Horse Show in May 2019 (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

Since the accident in January 2019 of her husband, then 97-year-old Prince Philip – who “Dazzled by the winter sun”, according to the police report, had toast the priority to a Kia with two women and a baby on board (assessment: one injured in the Kia) – the queen gave up driving on the public highway. The prince did it again two days later … Thank god, he does not drive the formal Bentley.

READ ALSO: Today I drive a Bentley, as long as I do …

READ ALSO: 5 MYTHICAL AND … UGLY CARS

(5/5) Multipla, the wheeled MPV

(4/5) ZIL 4104, the Soviet dinosaur

(3/5) AMC Pacer, the mechanical batrachian

(2/5) Dyane, the ungrateful sister of the 2CV

(1/5) Edsel Pacer, the ugly American



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