British subject or not, the Windsors are a constant topic of fascination around the world. If that name doesn’t ring a bell for you, you might know them better as the British royal family. With Queen Elizabeth II still on the throne after 64 years, she’s the longest reigning monarch in the world. And in the years since, she, her children, her children’s children, and their spouses have been almost daily tabloid fodder.
But let’s forget about all the controversies, scandals, and pomp and circumstance for a minute. Here’s something you might not know about the Windsors: They love their cars. During World War II, then-Princess Elizabeth served in the British Royal Army as a truck mechanic. While she was there, she developed a lifelong love of rugged off-road vehicles. Ever since, one of her pastimes (no kidding) is driving herself around in one of the several manual transmission 4x4s kept at her rural estates.
Apparently, that passion runs in the family. From the dozens of cars the royals have driven — whether they were kept for decades or cast off after a few years — we get an interesting picture of how their automotive tastes have changed from generation to generation. Picking out a few notable highlights from the past seven decades, here are some of the most memorable royal rides.
1. 1950 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV
Launched in 1949, the Phantom IV was designed by Rolls-Royce to serve as a state car. Only 17 were built, and they were only sold to heads of state. The first car was delivered to Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in July 1950. It was Valentine green when it was delivered. But when Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, it became an official state car and was painted claret and black, the royal family’s official color scheme. The car is still in official use and was used in Prince Charles and Kate Middleton’s wedding motorcade in 2011.
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