England has lost its queen. Elizabeth II has just left us at the age of 96, prompting ten days of national mourning and the cancellation of all comedy programs on national television. The entire automotive world is reeling from the disappearance of a king known for his love of driving and his impressive collection of royal cars. On the part of the British manufacturers, who have provided many cars to the royal family since the accession to the throne of Elizabeth II on February 6, 1952 at the age of 25, communication has increased since yesterday. From Rolls-Royce to Bentley via Jaguar, Land Rover or Aston Martin, all English references have done something to salute the memory of the queen. Even McLaren, whose flashy sports cars seem out of place for royal use, went there with his own little word of honor.
And the impact goes to the highest level of motorsport: Formula 1 has also been transferred. Stefano Domenicali, the big boss of the tournament, speaking “My deepest condolences to the Royal Family and to all citizens of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth”. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, head of the FIA (International Automobile Federation), sends his condolences to the British and recalls that “The heart of F1 beats very strongly in England”. He notes that “The various competitions organized this weekend will be in honor of his majesty”. Toto Wolff, boss of the Mercedes Formula One Team, based in Brackley in Northamptonshire (not far from many other teams in the championship), also greeted the king. As part of this weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Monza, a minute’s silence will be held before Friday’s first free practice. Already last year, the program of this great tournament was changed at the last minute to follow the funeral of Prince Philip, husband of Elizabeth II.
A determined driver
Not only did Queen Elizabeth II often travel in the back of comfortable limos, some of which were custom-built for her (like the 2002 Bentley State Limousine seen above), but she also made it a point of honor to drive. Sometimes to the point of bordering on an international diplomatic event, as in this story is remembered by Steps A few years ago: When welcoming Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 1998 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Elizabeth II brought him personally in her royal Land Rover. For a prince accustomed to banning his country from driving women, the situation could not be worse. He would even plead with the queen to slow down on Scottish roads, fearing the speed of this World War II-trained driver!
The throne now goes to King Charles III. He can also count on a well-stocked royal garage. In 2008, he had his beautiful Aston Martin DB6 Cabriolet modified to run on E100 bioethanol made from white wine. Will he soon be driving an electric Bentley or Rolls-Royce?