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Just Like the Queen

Much has been written about Queen Elizabeth II since her death on September 8, 2022. Britain's longest-reigning monarch truly had a remarkable life. One of the aspects of her personality that always fascinated me is that she, too, was a “car lady” who loved to drive and loved her cars, Land Rover and Jaguar among them.

Like many women of her era, the queen learned to drive during World War II when she joined the female division of the British army, the Auxiliary Territorial Service. While she was there, she also learned basic mechanic skills and how to operate military trucks.

Over the years, the queen has been seen driving virtually every generation of the Range Rover, starting as far back as 1979. The vehicles were perfectly suited for the rough terrain at her beloved Balmoral Castle in Scotland. In town, she often drove a sporty Jaguar wagon with a V6 equipped with a dog grill behind the rear seats to corral her Corgis. She also had a V8 Jag in her collection in iconic British racing green. One of the special features added just for her was an armrest with a sliding tray where she could place her handbag of the day.

I’ve often said that my perfect house would have one bedroom and a seven-car garage. While the queen certainly had far more bedrooms, her perfect garage was at her expansive Sandringham House estate and was large enough to house a fleet of cars, which included numerous Rolls-Royces and Bentleys.

Many have speculated that the queen’s favorite car was the Land Rover Defender built especially for her in 2002. This vehicle is at the center of an often-told story about the queen as a driver. In 2003, the former crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who was soon to become king, was offered a tour of the 50,000-acre Balmoral estate. He was apparently shocked when the queen pulled up as driver, especially since women were not allowed to drive at all in Saudi Arabia at the time. She then proceeded to drive at full speed across the rough grounds and unpaved roads giving the tour. As the story is told, the prince at one point asked the queen to concentrate on the road instead of the conversation! 

One of the few American cars the queen owned was the 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan. Her first car was a Daimler DB18, given to her in 1944 by her father, King George VI, for her 18th birthday. Interestingly, the queen never had a formal driver’s license, so, as she aged, never had it taken away! The last car she was seen driving was her dark grey Range Rover, known by a Labrador retriever ornament affixed to the middle of the hood. In July 2021, at 95, she drove it to the Royal Windsor Horse Show to watch her horses.