Around & About

Getting There

As well as the horse-drawn carriages used at Royal Ascot and other ceremonial occasions – the royals have a collection of more than 100 carriages - each palace has its own fleet of vehicles; there is still a Royal Train for journeys to Balmoral in on Royal Deeside and visits to the Braemar Highland Games; helicopters are often used for engagements in and around London, especially if the Prince of Wales or one of his sons is attending a polo match: Prince Charles, the Duke of York and Prince William are all military-trained helicopter pilots.

Yet even the royal family has been subject to some financial cuts: no longer are they able to use the Britannia as the best possible viewing platform for Cowes Week, since the Royal Yacht was decommissioned in 1997.

Indeed, the modernisation of the Royal family has seen one of the Queen's grandchildren, Zara Phillips, enter the realm of modern sporting sponsorships. Even before Phillips won her eventing world title in 2006, she had signed a generous sponsorship deal with Range Rover, whose vehicles she had effectively been endorsing since a small child, her father and mother using them as workhorses on their estate at Gatcombe Park, the venue for one of Britain's premier annual equestrian horse trials.

With so many of the royal family being keen on country pursuits and sport – led by Prince Philip, the one-time president of the international equestrian federation, and his polo and then, in later years, competitive carriage driving - such four-wheel drive vehicles are particularly popular.

But Prince William, playing water polo when a student at St Andrew's University, was known to use a bicycle to get to the pool, and like his uncle, the low-handicap golfer Duke of York, he and Prince Harry are known to favour British sports cars when attending other sports events privately.

Most of the royals have some honorary role with sports organisations: William is president of the Football Association; the Duke of Wessex is patron of England's Commonwealth Games body; his brother, Andrew, heads the Royal and Ancient Golf Club; and Princess Anne is patron of the Scottish Rugby Union (her other child, Peter, having played flank forward for the Scottish Schools side).

Those duties involve many engagements at Wembley, Wimbledon, Royal St George's or Murrayfield, all of which require journeying in the back of a sleek Bentley, Daimler or Rolls-Royce Phantom VI. The Bentleys and Rolls-Royces uniquely do not have registration number plates, since they are state vehicles.

The most recent of her fleet, the Queen's Bentleys, were presented to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002. Technical details show how different the Bentleys are to standard cars. The Bentleys are 6.22 metres long, nearly a metre longer than a standard Bentley Arnage. At 3.84 metres, its wheelbase is 1.3 metres longer than that of an average family sized saloon. The engine drives a standard, four-speed GM 4L80-E gearbox, which directs power through up-rated driveshafts to the rear wheels.

The rear seats are upholstered in Hield Lambswool Sateen cloth whilst all remaining upholstery is in light grey Connolly hide. Carpets are pale blue in the rear and dark blue in the front.

Some interesting historic Royal cars can be viewed at Sandringham Museum in Norfolk, close to the Queen's country estate. Items include the 1900 Daimler bought by King Edward VII – the son of Queen Victoria - and a half-scale Aston Martin given to Princes William and Harry in 1988. The princes have long since graduated to full-scale versions of the car.

The Royal Travel Office based at Buckingham Palace co-ordinates use of the different types of aircraft by members of the Royal Family. Air transport has been used by the Royal Family for Royal visits since the 1930s, with King Edward VIII – himself a keen pilot - the first British monarch to fly in 1936.

It is not known whether the Queen's uncle, who after abdicating in 1937 became known as the Duke of Windsor, was ever asked "How was the flight?"

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