Bentley: Fit for royalty – PhilStar Wheels

At the start of the 21st century, British Royalty shifted their preference for formal occasion mobility from the traditional Rolls-Royce to the modern luxury of the British brand Bentley. Marking this change were the Bentley State Limousines, which the Crewe-based manufacturer introduced in 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee – the 50th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne.

Only two Bentley State Limousines were built, making them much rarer than the 18 Rolls-Royce Phantom IVs made for royalty and other heads of state.

Designated as the official state cars, the two Bentley State Limousines served Her Majesty until her recent death and are also used by the Princess Royal, Anne, the Queen’s daughter and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The cars are mainly used on official missions and are always escorted by Royal Protection Squad vehicles.

The Queen also used the Bentleys to tour the royal residences of Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House. In addition, Her Majesty typically used the Bentleys abroad in lieu of state cars provided by the host government.

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Based on a Bentley Arnage, the Bentley State Limousines are body-built by Mulliner and designed so that their occupants are clearly visible from the outside.

The Bentley State Limousines are based on the Bentley Arnage and were created to the wishes of the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s Chief Chauffeur and Her Majesty herself. The specially commissioned cars have been used for official purposes for more than two decades.

Featuring a coach built and handcrafted by Bentley’s bespoke Mulliner division, the Bentley State Limousines are designed around a “panoramic glass house” concept, allowing their occupants to be clearly visible to outsiders (many may have a glimpse of the royal car cruising slowly by her only chance to see the Queen). This means that the Bentley State limousines are not only more than 80 centimeters longer than the production Bentley Arnage, but also wider and higher. Their roofs are high enough for Her Majesty to get in and out of the cars without having to bend down.

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To make getting in and out even easier, the doors are hinged at the rear and open at a 90-degree angle. Other bespoke features include a roof attachment point to allow for an illuminated crest and pennant, while flashing blue lights are fitted in the grille and front bumper for when the car must drive through traffic at high speed.

It was essential for Bentley that Her Majesty was comfortable in the state limousines for long periods of time. Therefore, the rear seating position of the cars was determined using a model that is exactly the same height as the Queen. A dedicated storage compartment has also been designed around the dimensions of the Queen’s favorite bags. Another help is the Bentley Arnage’s relatively flat floor – a trait that also characterizes the current-generation Bentley Flying Spur sedan and luxury SUV Bentley Bentayga.

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British textile manufacturer Hield Brothers produced the lambswool fabric used for the rear seat upholstery, with all remaining upholstery finished in Bentley’s light gray Connolly leather. The carpets are light blue in the back and dark blue in the front.

Because members of the royal family need to be protected from attack at all times, the Bentley State Limousine’s body and glass are specially reinforced. Their cabins are explosion-proof and can be sealed airtight to ward off a gas attack. Their tires are also reinforced with Kevlar to ensure the cars can be driven at high speeds even in an emergency. The Bentley State Limousines are powered by 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engines that have been modified to produce 400 hp and 835 Nm.

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