The REME Museum has in our collection a large number of vehicles, including many specialised repair and recovery vehicles. This vehicle, though, has no history of recovering damaged equipment or of readiness for harsh conditions. It is a review vehicle, modified and driven by REME personnel specifically for use by a very special VIP on visits to the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).

Black land rover with open cab from a diagonal perspective. British Union Jack and Queen Elizabeth IIs cypher are printed on the front, and a flag is on the bonnet.

The adapted Land Rover used by The Queen Mother, Army registration number 30 XC 16. 2006.4800.

From 1968 until the 1980s, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother used this specially adapted Land Rover Series 2A to undertake review visits to the Berlin Garrison in Germany. Adapted with an open cab, steps to the back and handrail, the space in the back of the car was for The Queen Mother to sit or stand while reviewing the troops on ceremonial parade. It is believed that others also used the car during visits to the BAOR, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen Mother was Commandant-in-Chief of the Army and Air Force Women's Services, and Women in the Royal Navy, as well as holding other Service appointments. She often visited REME units, from the formation of the Corps until her later years.

Black and white photo of the Queen Mother and Princess Elizabeth stood looking at a soldier wearing goggles working on metal, inside a workshop. Other soldiers stand around them.

In April 1944, Queen Elizabeth and then Princess Elizabeth visited 32 Infantry Brigade (Guards) Workshop, Guards Armoured Division, East Dereham, Norfolk. E:06.0392.01.

Black and white image of the Queen Mother walking and holding an umbrella under rain. Senior officers walk beside and behind, three other soldiers stand to attention to the right.

The Queen Mother on a rainy visit to 31 District Workshop REME, Catterick, September 1985. E:09.0366.001.© Crown Copyright, usable under Open Government Licence.

The Queen Mother dressed in black stands looking at Remembrance crosses on the ground. A group of people in military uniform stand behind her.

The Queen Mother admiring the REME plot in the Garden of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey, 1984. E:09.0950.020. © Crown Copyright, usable under Open Government Licence.

This one-of-a-kind car is, actually, one of a pair. Another was modified for use during royal reviews, but for use by Military Police to provide security for the VIP conducting the review. This one is now part of the Dunsfold Collection, which preserves Land Rover history. It is understood that these vehicles were modified using locally available car parts at the time, which included hub caps and mirrors from the Volkswagen (VW) Beetle. Incidentally, the Beetle was the very car that REME personnel used to demonstrate the possibility of restarting production of civilian vehicles by VW in 1949.

View of the front half of the car with steering wheel, windscreen and mirror in view.

A close-up of the cab, with mirrors in clear view.

The car was eventually taken out of service in 1993, but the life and story of this Land Rover did not end there, nor on its entry into our collection. In 2014, another famous figure made use of the vehicle at the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony. Idris Elba OBE, actor well-known for his roles in Luther and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, among others, arrived in the back of the car, driven by our late friend and colleague Staff Sergeant Kelvin ‘Roger’ Jones MBE.

Even today, the car continues to be maintained to a working standard. It has recently been used to transport senior Officers off the site as they leave their posts in Lyneham.

Side view of the Land Rover mid-drive with our Director in the driver

Colonel Andy J Rogers, former Corps Colonel, in the Land Rover driven by our Museum Director, Major (Retired) Rick Henderson, September 2021.

Front-on view of the Land Rover driving in the distance with Col Wigmore stood waving in the back. Soldiers lining the street on either side and clapping. It is a foggy day.

Lieutenant Colonel Ed Wigmore, former Commanding Officer, 5 Force Support (FS) Battalion REME, driven by Reserve Collection Manager, Wayne Meadows.

Lucy Brown, Museum Assistant. Published in The Craftsman on 1 January 2023.