Last month, in celebration of St. David's Day and St. Patrick's Day, we posted a guide to our favourite touring caravan sites in Wales and Ireland. This month we continue the British theme by celebrating the Queen's birthday on 21st April and the English patron's day, St. George's Day on 23rd April
We are always keen for an excuse to write about cars here at Specialised Covers and as a very tenuous link to our British theme, we've decided to delve into the cars of the Royal Household. Today we are focusing on The Queen's 2002 Bentley State Limousine.
The Queen has quite a collection of cars, all of which are housed at the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. Amongst the collection are eight state limousines, all of them made by iconic, traditionally British automotive marques. There are two Bentleys, three Rolls Royces and three Daimlers. Okay, yes we know that all those marques are now in overseas ownership but we did say traditionally
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The Royal Mews, home to the Royal Cars[/caption]
The most recent editions to the state fleet are the two Bentleys, the first of which was presented to The Queen to commemorate her golden jubilee in 2002.
The Bentley limousines are truly a unique pair. Although based on the 2002 Bentley Arnage, only two of them were ever produced and they were both built for Her Majesty. The one-off design was put together by a consortium of British motor industry suppliers and manufacturers, which was headed up by Bentley. The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Majesty's Head Chauffeur were all consulted on the design prior to production.
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The Bentley State Limousine in convoy[/caption]
The first thing that you notice when looking at the car, is its sheer size. Bentley don't make small cars and this state limousine is the biggest of the lot. It's huge! At nearly 21 feet long, 6.5 feet wide and 5 feet 8 inches tall, The Queen's motor weighs in at an impressive 4.4 tons. Of course, there are reasons for the extra size and weight, this is no ordinary Bentley. First of all, there's a 6.75 litre V8 under the bonnet, at 4.4 tons they need the 400 horsepower just to get this behemoth off the mark. Each body panel and piece of glass are, as you would expect for a monarch's car, bullet proof. The tyres are blast resistant and reinforced with kevlar and in case of a gas attack, the whole of the interior can be sealed air-tight at the press of a button.
It's not just the safety features that make this state limousine different. There are host of other bespoke design attributes fit for a Queen. The consortium developed a monocoque construction, meaning that the transmission assembly runs underneath the floor of the car so as not to encroach on the space in the cabin. The rear doors are hinged at the back and open a full 90 degrees from the body of the car. This enables a dignified entry and exit of the vehicle and means that HRH can stand up straight before stepping down to the ground. The purpose of a state car is to transport the dignitaries in style and to allow them to see and be seen. To this aim, the car has been designed with visibility in mind. In addition to the usual side, rear and front windows, there is a glass panoramic roof that has the option of a removable exterior cover for added spectator satisfaction. This cover was removed for the jubilee celebrations. All this glass could lead to the interior becoming uncomfortably hot but the clever people of the consortium came up with the solution of trapping a reflective coating between the two sheets of glass that make up each panel. This equates to 15% tint on the side windows and 40% on the panoramic roof, without detracting anything from the clarity of the glass.
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State Limousine Interior[/caption]
The interior has been subjected to the same high level of detail and design as the outside. As well as looking good, nothing but the very finest quality luxury materials have been used to create an interior befitting of the Royal passengers. Hield Brothers, from right here in glorious Yorkshire, were commissioned to deck out the inside and opted for finest lambswool sateen cloth for the seats and light grey Connolly hide for door panels and other surfaces. Polished wood trims surround the leather. Carpets are pale blue in the rear and dark blue in the front.
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Custom hood ornament of St. George slaying the dragon[/caption]
The car is due to be put out of service in 2027.