A Right Royal Bentley
I‘ve got a thing about collections. As a youngster growing up in sixties Britain, I collected stamps, coins, banknotes, and even - somewhat inexplicably - keys.
With the exception of the keys, the one commonality with my other collections was heads of state. In particular, it was Her Majesty the Queen’s image that left an indelible mark on me. As well as stamps, coins and banknotes, her likeness appeared on postcards, medals, mugs and all kinds of memorabilia - at the heart of the nation.
Fast forward to 2015, and I get a call from Bentley Motors. “Would you like to join us in the Royal box for the Bentley Royal Windsor Polo Cup Final?” Would I catch a glimpse of HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, I wondered? On the day, Neil Hobday, Chief Executive of Guards Polo Club, politely asks, “have you met the Queen before?” Since stamps and coins don’t really count, he spent the next ten minutes teaching me the do’s and don’ts of royal etiquette, like how to bow and how you should never offer your hand in greeting unless Her Majesty does so first. “No selfies either”, he warned.
Wordlessly I rehearsed my response should Her Majesty speak to me about the finer points of polo, but I needn’t have bothered, of course. She didn’t engage me in small talk, but she did offer me a bright and genuine smile as she sat down not two feet away from me. It was a surreal moment, having grown up with her image as a distant, yet much loved figure, and now, here she was chilling with me in the Royal Box as we watched the UK's leading medium-goal polo competition on her own turf in Windsor. The urge for a selfie was overcome, just.
My interest in keys made a welcome return after prize giving – when I was presented with the keys to a Monaco yellow Bentley Flying Spur V8. Bentley has a long and proud relationship with the Royal family, making my drive from Windsor through some of England’s most beautiful roads to Ellenborough Park near Cheltenham all the more poignant.
At low speeds, half of its eight cylinders shut down, enabling a range of 500 miles, providing you don’t test its 4.9sec 0-60mp/h capabilities too frequently. Permanent four-wheel drive conquers its 500bhp and 488lb ft torque without you knowing anything about the unseemly battle between the mechanics and the road surface.
The cabin in this best ever selling four-door Bentley is faultless. It’s as stylish as any collectable design classic - be it a Riva Speedboat or a Breitling Bentley Flying B watch. But it’s not big on the latest technology like autonomous braking or lane departure assist or even a simple USB to charge your iPhone. If you desire the finest in craftsmanship though from the grain of the wood to the stitching on the leather – this £136,000 car is a Royal choice.