Apr 28, 2011
Kate Middleton rides to Royal Wedding in Rolls-Royce Phantom VI
Kate Middleton will arrive for her wedding to Prince William pulled by 200 horses. She'll leave as a Princess, but drawn by just four horses.Kate, the commoner, has chosen to ride to the church -- Westminster Abbey -- with her father in the Queen's classic 1977 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI (200 hp.). She'll leave a Princess, with husband Prince William, in the 1902 State Landau carriage drawn by four-horse hitch led by a big gray named Dan (or the enclosed Glass Coach if it rains).
The famous Rolls-Royce was given to the Queen in 1978 for the Silver Jubilee of her reign by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, a grand gesture by the imploding British auto industry. It's a sign of those times for British automakers that the Queen's 25th anniversary was 1977, but a strike delayed delivery of the limo.
This Royal Roller was most recently in the news in December when rioting students angry over government cutbacks attacked the car with Prince Charles and wife Camilla in it, splashing the limo with white paint and breaking windows. The grand old car has been restored -- no small task because it is a custom, hand-built machine.
The Phantom VI's engine is the 6.75-liter from the Silver Shadow II, the best-selling Rolls of all time. It puts out just about 200 hp., but does it at a leisurely 4,000 rpm. Plenty for a parade car that does lots of its work at 10 mph or less. The transmission, though, is a General Motors three-speed Turbo Hydramatic 400. And it makes do with drum brakes all around.
The car, built at Mulliner Park Ward, London, has an extra-high roof so the royals can see and be seen. It has removable panels that expose a clear dome in the rear. The paint is the Royal claret and black and it has fittings over the windshield that hold the Queen's silver Coat of Arms and flag (only when she's aboard). But don't look for a license plate bracket -- the Queen doesn't have to have plates on her state cars.
The car may be the best known of her cars, but also garaged at the Royal Mews are two Bentleys, three Rolls-Royces and three Daimlers. The Queen's Official Website of the British Monarchy also notes that her state fleet includes several Volkswagen 'people carriers,' which could also describe the Bentleys, now that VW owns it.
See photos of: England, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Royal Wedding