​That Time Queen Elizabeth II Scared The Shit Out Of A Saudi Prince

Illustration for article titled ​That Time Queen Elizabeth II Scared The Shit Out Of A Saudi Prince

Queen Elizabeth II is a royal bad-ass. She drives stick, fixes trucks, and one time she took Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on a joyride that had him begging her to slow down.

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The anecdote comes from Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who was with the Queen during a visit from then-prince Abdullah.

… in September 1998, Abdullah had been invited up to Balmoral, for lunch with the Queen. Following his brother King Fahd's stroke in 1995, Abdullah was already the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate. Prompted by his Foreign Minister, the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah had agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.

Cowper-Coles says that while it's bad form to repeat what the Queen says in private to her trusted subjects, this was "too funny not to repeat." The story's supposedly been confirmed by the late King, but even the Queen's skills weren't enough to get him to overturn his county's ban on women driving.

DISCUSSION

KirkyV
KirkyV

Queen Elizabeth II is a royal bad-ass. She drives stick, fixes trucks, and one time she took Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on a joyride that had him begging her to slow down.

I know this has to be getting kind of old at this point, but, while the Queen's history as a wartime Land Rover mechanic, and ongoing love of driving, is perfectly notable, it is not at all remarkable to drive a manual in the UK.

To give you some indication of just how unremarkable, in 2010, 1,164,828 driving tests were conducted between the 1st of April, and the 31st of December, in the UK. Of those, 59,934 were for a limited, automatic-only licence, and as such could be taken in an automatic car. The remaining 1,104,894 were for a full licence, and as such had to be taken in a manual car.

For reference, the British driving test involves forty minutes of driving on a variety of different road types - including at least ten minutes of 'independent driving', wherein the examiner instructs the testee to navigate to a certain location that they are known to be familiar with, and then gives no further 'turn-left/right/straight-on' directions - in traffic, and at least two manoeuvres out of a possible four. (Those four being a parallel park, a reverse bay-park, a turn-in-the-road - or three-point turn - and reversing around a corner on public roads.)

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https://www.gov.uk/government/upl…