From Rolls-Royce to Bentley to Porsche, royal rides are in a league of their own.
This is not only because of their regal association but also because they are usually exclusive models customised to meet the comfort and safety of some of the world’s most powerful monarchs.
Here’s a look at some of these exclusive cars of royals like the late Queen Elizabeth II, Emperor of Japan and King Gustaf of Sweden.
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain
The official car in which the late Queen usually travels is a Bentley State Limousine. Only two models were built, and both are meant for her. They were presented to the Queen on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne in 2002. The Queen, her late husband Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and her Head Chauffeur gave inputs for the design.
Both Bentleys are based on the Arnage but are modified for the comfort and security of the monarch. They are almost a metre longer than a standard Bentley Arnage and have blast-proof floors and airtight cabins. The engine is a 400hp 6.75-liter V8 which drives a four-speed GM 4L80-E gearbox. The doors are high, and the queen can stand up before stepping out. Its design allows people to see her from almost any angle. Hield Lambswool Sateen cloth has been used to make the rear seats.
Other than the Bentleys, there is a fleet of Rolls-Royce and Daimlers and a custom 2015 Range Rover. It is believed that her favourite car was a customised Land Rover Defender, which she used to drive across her estate. The car was auctioned off in 2014.
There is also a Bentley Mulsanne and a Jaguar XJ in her collection, the latter of which she was seen driving when she arrived for the Cartier Queen’s Cup Final at Guards Polo Club in 2013. Worth mentioning is the Rolls-Royce Phantom IV State Landaulette, which went up for sale along with some of her other Rolls-Royce cars in 2018. The Phantom IV was one of only 18 ever made between 1950 and 1956, and it was used by the Queen and the royal family for several decades since the late 1950s. Then there is the Rolls Royce Phantom VI, in which her crown was recently delivered to the Houses of Parliament ahead of her address during the State Opening of Parliament on May 11, 2021.
Emperor of Japan
Emperor Naruhito of Japan travels in a Toyota Century Royal, which is the official car of the Emperor of Japan. A special convertible version of the car was made for the Emperor’s coronation parade in 2019. It had a slightly higher rear seat, to enable the royal passengers to see and be seen clearly by the people.
Besides the convertible, the royal family has been using multiple second-generation Century limos since 2006. These cars have three rows of seats. One of these is a hearse and was a part of an official cavalcade in 2016 following the death of Prince Mikasa — uncle of Emperor emeritus Akihito.
The internal features of the cars are not exactly known but since they are used by the royal family, both the security features and comfort will be of the highest level.
Prince Charles, Britain
Like his mother Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles has a collection of his own that is worth taking note of. He has the beautiful Seychelles Blue Aston Martin DB6 Volante, a powerful car the Prince converted in 2008 to run on biofuel made from surplus wine and cheese. The original model was a present from the Queen on his 21st birthday. The Prince frequently uses the convertible; he arrived at the Aston Martin Lagonda factory in Barry, Wales, in this car in 2020. But the car’s most famous moment came in 2011 when Prince William took his wife Kate for a ride in it following their wedding.
The Prince also has an Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante, which was a gift from the Emir of Bahrain. It is painted in Balmoral Green colours and has undergone slight modifications like the addition of a manual gearbox and removal of boot spoiler. He also had a third Aston Martin — a Virage Volante, which was leased from the Newport Pagnell firm for 15 years. The car was sold at an auction in 2019, years after the end of the lease period.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei
Brunei is one of the most prosperous countries in the world and its ruler, Sultan of Brunei, is one of the richest rulers. The Sultan holds the Guinness World Record (GWR) of the largest private Rolls-Royce fleet in the world, numbering around 500. The other cars in his collection are an enviable mix of both uber-luxury models and high-performing supercars.
According to GWR, he owns Maybach 62, Porsche Carrera GT, Bugatti EB110, Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, the original red show model of Bentley Continental R, along with six Dauer 962ssix Ferrari FX, five McLaren F1s and the only right-hand drive Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR in the world. The total estimate of his car collection is around US$4 billion.
Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR is one of its kind sports car that was not made for the road. It was designed for FIA GT Championship and spectacularly won the 1997 edition. Auto enthusiasts consider the CLK-GTR as an icon in the Mercedes line. The car’s 6.9-litre V12 delivered enough power to give it a top speed of 314 kph.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Thailand
His father, the beloved former king Bhumibol Adulyadej, preferred the Maybach 62 limousine. This car is now in the hands of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the current ruler of Thailand and one of the richest royals in the world. The Maybach 62 is an ultra-luxury vehicle that has everything from four-zone climate control to a 21-speaker BOSE Surround Everywhere sound system. For privacy, the vehicle comes with tinted windows and infrared-reflecting laminated glass all around. There is a refrigerator compartment, two rear LCD TV screens and folding rear tables among several other comfort-driven features.
Apart from this, the king can be seen riding a Rolls-Royce Corniche. Its last series model was launched in 2000 and continued till 2002. Known as Rolls-Royce Corniche V, the car came with a 6.75-litre V8 engine and plush interiors. Its sole purpose has been to give the highest level of luxury to its rider.
Besides these, the king and other members of the royal family can be seen travelling in several other luxury vehicles, including Mercedes-Benz cars and a cream-coloured Rolls-Royce Phantom VI on special occasions.
King Carl XVI Gustaf, Sweden
In 2020, the Swedish king was in the news for purchasing an exclusive BMW M8 Competition Coupé. The extremely stylish sports car has a 4.4-litre V-8 delivering 617 hp. The car has a top speed of 300 kph and can reach from zero to 100 kph in three seconds. It comes in 12 colours, including the standard Marina Bay blue metallic.
While his newest private acquisition is indeed a head-turner, this is not the first ‘high-speed’ four-wheeler for the King. He has an AC Cobra, a Porsche, a Shelby Mustang and a Ferrari, too. It was also reported in 2015 that the King had purchased a few Volvo XC90 SUVs to add to his fleet.
On special occasions, however, the King uses the 1950 Daimler DE27 Limousine. The eight-seater is one of the oldest cars in the Swedish Royal Stables and underwent restoration between 2008-09. The car’s engine is 6 cylinder, 4095 cc delivering 110 hp SAE at 3.600 rpm.
There is also a 1969 Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five Limousine, which the King used frequently until the late 1980s. The eight-seater with its 8 cylinders, 7735 cc engine is used on special occasions and for transporting ambassadors.
Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai, UAE
The crown prince of Dubai and son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh Hamdan is one of the most followed royals on Instagram. Part of his social media popularity is his way of letting his followers witness the simple joys of his life with family, his travels and his love for horses. He also owns an armada of cars that includes a selection of Rolls-Royce models and a Bentley Bentayga.
Then there’s also a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse which shares space with a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta in his garage. These are two of the world’s fastest cars. The Bugatti has a top speed of 410 kph and goes from zero to 100 kph in just 2.6 seconds. The Ferrari, with its 6262 cc V12, reaches up to 340 kph. Also part of his unique collection is an unspecified number of gold-colour cars, including a Range Rover and a Lamborghini.
Standard cars are not the only things that Hamdan loves to ride. Part of his love for adventure is fulfilled by his six Panther vehicles — amphibious cars which run on both land and water — and tanks. The Dubai royal bought an entire fleet of luxury tanks by Howe and Howe Technologies. The company is known for making military-grade machines and holds the Guinness record for the smallest all-terrain armoured vehicle known as PAV1 Badger. The tracked vehicles are capable of moving over every kind of terrain and counts Jay Leno among its other illustrious fans.
(Main and featured images: Rebecca Naden / Pool / AFP)
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