(The Rolls-Royce Phantom VI in which Kate Middleton and her father were driven to Westminster Abbey last Friday, was sampled by our Editor at Large, John Weinthal.)
This vehicle was a gift to the British Queen in 1978 to mark her Silver Jubilee, but before the Queen could sample the sumptuousness, John Weinthal had already tried the regal Roller.
This tidbit of background provided by John might be of further interest. The donors were member companies of Britain’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the trade association for all motor manufacturers and importer companies in the UK, including accessory and commercial vehicle makers.
The ‘Royal’ Weinthal
Donations were voluntary. The car was commissioned from Rolls-Royce whose designers worked closely with advisers from the Royal household and garage.
The high glass roof was to ensure the best possible viewing of the Queen and other occupants, rather than to accommodate her high hats!
Interesting features requested included upholstery in a pale blue West of England cloth rather than leather and the Philips cassette tapes requested were primarily of marching tunes with pipe and brass bands.
I may be one of the few ‘commoners’ to have ridden in that seat before Miss Middleton. As PR Manager for SMMT in 1978 I arranged for Autocar Magazine to drive it briefly for an exclusive photo-shoot prior to its handover to Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle.
I am sure I broke more than a few rules both by riding in the car and being photographed in it. It’s a long while ago – may I be forgiven. My chauffeur was Autocar editor Ray Hutton – still one of Britain’s leading motoring journalists.
And just by the way, the unique Bentley in which the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh rode from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey was a gift to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. It was made by Bentley after the company’s takeover by the German VW Group.
(Thank you John, and we hope there are no men in suits from MI6 knocking on your door after this gets published.)