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An old Land Rover Defender 130 isn't even close to being the most luxurious vehicle on earth. It is far from being the vehicle of choice for most royal families in the world. For Prince Philip though, it is a different story. The Duke of Edinburgh loved his Land Rovers and had reportedly asked to be driven to his funeral in a Land Rover.
Old Land Rovers are often criticised for being unreliable and too basic. However, those associated with the brand for decades see Land Rovers as more than just another vehicle. Lots of emotions and feelings are associated with Land Rover's SUVs and Prince Philip was an ardent Land Rover lover and spent most of his life driving various Land Rovers around.
Prince Philip, the Duke Of Edinburgh breathed his last on 09 April, 2021. As per tradition, the mourning and the burial ceremony is a grand affair. However, there is a LandRover twist to it. Thanks to the Duke of Edinburgh's love for Land Rovers, the vehicle for the final journey will be a Land Rover 130 ‘Gun Bus' designed by Prince Philip himself.
The relationship between the Royal Family and Land Rover is one that goes back to the company's origins. King George VI granted a Royal Warrant to Land Rover in 1951. He was presented with the 100th Land Rover ever built.
At the time when Queen Elizabeth became the Monarch in 1952, Land Rover was an offshoot of the Rover company and produced just one vehicle, simply named Land Rover. Over time though, the brand started producing more variants and in the 1970s, the Range Rover was creating headlines all over.
It was the first posh off-road vehicle in the world. It could go anywhere while still keeping its occupants in the lap of luxury and this immediately took Prince Philip's fancy. There have been four generations of the Range Rover since then and the Duke of Edinburgh is said to have owned or driven at least one example of every generation of the premium SUV.
Prince Philip was quite evidently an enthusiast and loved driving his cars himself. There's this one instance when he jumped into the driver's seat of a fourth-gen Range Rover to chauffeur Queen Elisabeth, then President of America Barack Obama and then First Lady of America Michelle Obama at Windsor Castle in 2016.
More recently, in 2019, Prince Philip had a crash while he was driving a Land Rover Freelander. His car collided with a Kia Picanto Supermini as he was pulling out of an intersection when low sunshine blinded him. The Land Rover Freelander overturned and a replacement was ordered. Land Rover delivered the replacement right the next day.
Prince Philip was 97-years-old at the time, and that incident was the last time that he drove on public roads as he voluntarily surrendered his driving license after a month. Quite obviously then, the Duke of Edinburgh has had a long history with Land Rover and its cars.
He is also reported to have said the words "Just stick me in the back of a Land Rover and drive me to Windsor," to the Queen. Hence, the decision was taken to use a land Rover Defender for his last journey on earth. This though is no ordinary Land Rover Defender.
It is one that Prince Philip himself ordered and had built according to his requirements. In 2016, Prince Philip approached Foley Specialist Vehicles with a requirement for a bespoke ‘Gun Bus.'
Hunters are fondly called ‘Guns' in Britain and this Gun Bus, built on the previous-generation Defender 130 was made to haul these guns around estates during hunting parties. This particular Gun Bus is decked in Military Green and is equipped with LED lights, Green leather interior, and French Oak Trim on the dashboard.
The funeral on the other hand will be a grand affair with several military units, heads of states and members of the Royal Family in attendance. It will take place on 17 April, 2021.
Thoughts On Land Rover Defender Being Used For Prince Philip's Last Journey
It is quite obvious that the Duke of Edinburgh was a land Rover enthusiast. Hence it is befitting to see a Land Rover that he himself designed being used as his final ride. On April 17, this Land Rover Defender Gun Bus will be among the most important and most-guarded vehicles in the world. There can be no greater tribute to a vehicle by a head of state.