From gilded carriages to Land Rovers Defenders, the famous royals of the world have been known to enjoy a wide range of transportation options. 

One of the main roles of royalty is to get out and about, visiting loyal subjects, supporting worthy causes and meeting with other diplomatic leaders, so it’s not surprising that the modes of transport and types of travel arrangements enjoyed by high profile royals make for fascinating reading and photo-opportunities. 

Given that most of us have to deal with the usual delays, congestion and everyday hassles of travel and traffic, it can be inspiring to follow the travels of members of royalty as they go about their regal appointments, as well as their holidays and social trips. 

Here are some of the interesting facts and details of how royals travel in the modern world. 

Royal Carriages

In centuries past, the kings and queens of the ages would traditionally travel around their realms in ornate and opulent carriages, drawn by the finest horses decorated with feathers and royal colours. 

Obviously, these modes of transport are of another age and not suitable for modern travel, even for members of royalty. However, many of these gilded carriages and ornately decorated vehicles have lasted for centuries, and they do sometimes make an appearance in contemporary society. 

For example, the fine collection of royal carriages still owned by the British Royal Family makes for a familiar site for some of the ceremonial events when high-ranking royals are making their way through the streets of London, attending official appointments, as members of the public line the streets to wave and cheer. 

Queen Elizabeth II riding in a phaeton, drawn by Windsor Grey horses, at the 2007 Trooping the Colour. (This carriage is known as the “Ivory-mounted Phaeton”) – Jon, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps the most famous of these royal carriages are the ones used for royal weddings. Who can forget the smiling face of Princess Diana as she made their way to the cathedral in the ornate and opulent royal carriage? Or the happy couples of recent royal weddings who travel through the crowds in open-top carriages drawn by the finest royal horses. 

While these fine vehicles may not be the most practical way to get around in the modern world, there’s no doubt that they make a dazzling impression and reinforce the pomp and tradition that so many ordinary people love about royal events. 

Practical Country Estate Cars

While the golden carriages may be the vehicle of choice for royal extravaganzas, there’s another type of car that has also become synonymous with the royal family, though not for its glamour or historic appeal. 

The humble Land Rover Defender is the practical and robust car of choice for many royals as they travel around their large country estates. The late Queen Elizabeth in particular was frequently sighted driving her muddy green Land Rover when out and about in the grounds of her estate. 

While these low-key options may not reflect the true spirit of royal living, they perhaps make a refreshing change from the finery of pomp and ceremony. After all, the royals are not the only ones to enjoy the experience of this strong workhorse-type vehicle when off-roading out in the countryside, so it may be the rigorous driving experience rather than the deluxe aesthetics that make these cars such an enduring choice for off-duty royals. 

Sleek Black Official Cars

The carriages and the country estate cars may be the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to royal transportation, but there’s a classic vehicle that holds the middle ground and has been a popular choice for modern royals for generations. 

The sleek black state vehicles used by many royals are a common sight for royal watchers and those following the travels of modern members of royalty. 

Similar to the ministerial cars used by world leaders and diplomats, these understated yet impeccably maintained black cars lend an undisputed air of dignity and official status. 

The British Royal Family is renowned for its collection of these sleek and gleaming luxury vehicles which have traditionally included cars made by Jaguar, Bentley, Rolls Royce and Range Rover. 

Some of these are custom-made, designed specifically to enable more visibility and connection to the crowds at royal events. One example is the late Queen of England’s custom-built Range Rover that allowed her to stand and wave as she progressed through the cheering crowds, with the famous Royal Standard flag fluttering proudly from the front of the vehicle. 

Other cars are designed to allow for the lavish dresses and ball gowns that royal ladies are often required to wear when attending ceremonial events. Similar to limousines, the back seats of these royal vehicles allow for the dignity and spaciousness required by travelling royalty. 

Princes & Sports Cars

In between the official travels and the breaks in the country, there’s another mode of transport that has become associated with modern royals, both during the media frenzies of a royal wedding and also during the occasional downtime – the convertible sports car. 

An iconic image from the wedding of Prince William and his new wife Catherine was their post-wedding ride through the waving crowds in the beautiful Aston Martin sports car. 

His father, King Charles III has also been known to enjoy sports cars and was a popular sight in open-top vehicles during his younger years. In more recent times, the English king has brought his love of luxury sports cars in line with his environmental sensibilities, having his Aston Martin converted to run on biofuel. The notoriously eco-friendly monarch says, “It smells delicious as you’re driving along.”

These are just a few of the many types of cars that royals use for both their official duties and their personal lives. Of course, cars are just one mode of transport for many modern royals. Planes, private trains, yachts, helicopters, and even gun carriages feature in the list of royal transportation options. 

Beyond the official requirements for royal travel, it’s fascinating to see how today’s royals prefer to get about. Whether it’s the joy of off-roading or the fun of a James Bond-style sports car – the ways that royals travel can provide a rare glimpse into the personalities and preferences of the few people in the world that could choose from the finest transportation options available.