This issue of Roverlog is a tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on September 8th at the age of 96 after seventy years on the throne. The Queen was linked with Land Rovers throughout her reign -- a reign that encompassed almost the entirety of the company's history. This week, we pay tribute to The Queen and look at some of the Land Rovers that have been most closely tied to her for the past seven decades.
There is no need to go through the biographical details of The Queen, or recap the immense amounts of social change that occurred in her unprecedented reign. Others have done it, and for the nine out of ten people on this planet who had never lived in the time of another British monarch until Thursday, we all lived it together.
But if our cars are a reflection of our personality, The Queen's relationship with her Land Rovers reflected both her private and public personas. Though very few people knew her on a personal level, it is common knowledge that the private Queen was resourceful, somewhat informal, and had a deep love of the countryside. This side of her shone the most when she was in her private spaces, particularly her more relaxed estates at Sandringham in Norfolk and Balmoral in Scotland.
It was there that we so often saw The Queen driving herself, eschewing the Bentley State Limousine and brand-new Jaguars and Range Rovers that so often were part of her working life. When she was in her own space, she often drove herself around her large properties, and if you look for images of her with Land Rovers on a Google Image Search, there are two constants in the results.
One was her custom-built Defender 110, a regal black truck with unpainted rivets and grab handles above the doors, trimmed in rich green leather. The truck is a constant, as The Queen was. A444 RYV is there, driving down the road, the petite monarch behind the wheel behind that iconic flat windshield. It's climbing the wooded trails of Sandringham or Balmoral; it's there in a field with The Queen aside it, Land Rover lettering in the rear mud flaps painted a vivid yellow. There are even images of her, in a rare instance, getting out of the back of it arriving for the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 1997. In The Queen, the 2007 film fictionalizing the days after the death of Princess Diana, it's a stand-in for this Defender, a single digit changed on the movie number plate, that The Queen gets stuck off-roading.
By the late 2000s, the aging Queen moved from the agrarian Defender to the then-current third-generation Range Rover, and the Defender moved out of regular service. What was remarkable about The Queen's relationship with her late model Range Rovers was her utter dedication to the 2006-2009 L322 models. In almost all of the images of her driving her own Range Rovers from that point forward, all the way until the final images in early 2022 taken at Sandringham, she was driving what was by then at least a thirteen-year-old Rangie.
Now, these are the cult classics of the L322 years, with many Land Rover enthusiasts preferring the incredibly durable 4.4 and 4.2-liter V8 motors used during that time, and some preferring the more discreet design cues compared to the 2010-2012 models. Even Britain's most famous motoring journalist, Jeremy Clarkson, is deeply dedicated to his Range Rover from that era and vocally refuses to replace it for these reasons.
But perhaps her dedication to her L322 was a symbol of something else that losing The Queen takes from us -- the last major global tie between the current day and the resourceful days of World War II, and the years of austerity afterward as Britain dug itself out of the ruins of conflict. The Queen was a mechanic in World War II, as a member of the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service, so was no stranger to the benefits of repair and keeping something going. Buying a quality product, keeping it in service, and continuing to enjoy it is a mindset that now sometimes seems of another generation.
There were so many other Land Rovers in The Queen's life, whether it was her Royal Review open-topped vehicles or a variety of vehicles she rode in over the years, but these two seem the ones that meant the most to her over the years. For seventy of Land Rover's seventy-four years, Elizabeth II reigned over Britain as they became part of the national landscape. She put her Royal Warrant on these vehicles, drove them in all corners of the world, and created an unbreakable tie between the two British institutions: the Royal Family and the Land Rover.
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