Queen Elizabeth II: A life in Land Rovers

    Throughout her life, the Queen was pictured behind the wheel of a Land Rover. So special were the cars to the royals, a bespoke one even carried Prince Philip’s coffin when he died.

    The couple’s enduring relationship with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) vehicles was “part of the Royal Family’s DNA,” said motoring journalist Quentin Willson.

    “These two iconic figures chose this iconic brand and the philosophical fit between the cars and the people is absolutely right.”

    The company has held Royal Warrants since 1951 after it was first granted to Land Rover by King George VI, who had tried an early prototype.

    “There was this really strong connection with Jaguars and Land Rovers and Rovers with the Royal Family,” said Mr Willson.

    “This workman-like, studious, reliable, unflappable piece of engineering that worked really well and sent out all the right messages.”

    Almost immediately after her Coronation, the Queen and Prince Philip were spotted doing royal engagements in specially converted Land Rovers “and you could see that it was a preference for them,” Mr Willson said.

    The converted vehicles “probably had Prince Philip’s design input,” he explained. “He was always really interested and keen on them.”

    A fleet of bespoke Land Rovers, designed and manufactured in the West Midlands, was used to carry the couple on their six-month tour of the Commonwealth in 1953, taking in Bermuda, Jamaica, Fiji and Australia.

    One of them forms part of a display of the Queen’s cars at the British Motor Museum, at Gaydon in Warwickshire.

    “Not only is it a beautiful vehicle, but this is the vehicle where a lot of people saw their Queen for the very first time,” Stephen Laing, head of collections at the museum, said.

    “It was made to accommodate the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh standing up and greeting the crowds.

    “My colleagues and I walk past these vehicles every day, and we know that they’re special because they’re the Queen’s cars, but over the last few days they’ve become more poignant because you have that strong association.

    “They’re an extremely important part of the history of the Queen’s association with the British motor industry.”

    “All through their lives you could see that these weren’t just ceremonial cars, but they were the cars that they drove themselves on the estates,” said Mr Willson.

    The Queen would regularly be pictured in the cars “and it was clear that she really, really loved them.”

    “They liked the cars and they liked the West Midlands,” he explained, and they regularly visited the company’s factories on Browns Lane in Coventry and in Solihull.

    The former Top Gear presenter said he had been lucky enough to test drive one of the Queen’s classic Rovers, a P5B on loan to the British Motor Museum.

    “I knew the Queen had this lovely green one, it was her personal one that she drove around that had been specially made for her.

    “A message was sent to the Royal household, and came back that the Queen would be delighted if you drove her old Rover,” said Mr Willson.

    “So I was allowed to take this car out on the road and film it, it was just great.”

    The Duke of Edinburgh, who died at the age of 99 in April 2021, worked on creating a bespoke hearse from a modified Land Rover to carry his coffin.

    He began creating it in collaboration with JLR in 2003, modifying the open top rear section where his coffin rested.

    He was also famously filmed picking up Barack and Michelle Obama in his Range Rover during their visit to Windsor in 2016.

    Along with Jaguar, Land Rover was the only automotive manufacturer to hold all three Royal Warrants from the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.