Top ten motorcycle riding Royals | From Prince Philip, to King Carlos

In this week when the Royal Family and the death of  Prince Philip has been dominating the news, here’s our round-up of the ‘Top 10 Biking Royals’!

Prince William

IN this week of mourning and condolence for Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, it’s perhaps timely and deserving to remember that he was a bit of a biker, too.

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Nor was he the only royal motorcyclist. While it’s well reported and fairly common knowledge that both Princes William and Harry have both been passionate about two wheels, there are more than a few others that may surprise you – both in the UK and abroad.

So, in this week when, for the saddest reasons, the Royal Family has been dominating the news, here’s our round up of the ‘Top 10 Biking Royals’!

Prince Philip

OK, we don’t profess that the late Queen’s Consort was any kind of hard-core biker, but he did have more to do with two wheels than you might realise. He certainly could ride, was often pictured aboard an Easy Rider monkey bike (of all things) around the Royal estates and on more than one occasion visited the Isle of Man TT being guest starter way back in 1949 (as his bike-mad grandson William did more recently) of the Senior TT. We salute you, Sir!

Prince William

OK, let’s get the most obvious ones out of the way early on. The Duke of Cambridge’s love of bikes, along with that of his brother (below), is well documented, even though he’s had to curtail his adventures in more recent years due to both his responsibilities as a dad and his order of succession to the throne. But as a former Triumph Daytona 600, 675 and Ducati 1098 rider, TT visitor and race starter, supporter of the British bike industry (we’ll gloss over his Norton NEC visit here) and official opener of Triumph’s Factory Visitor Experience in 2018 (when he also sneaked a quick go on a Tiger 1200) we’ll more than forgive him.

Prince Harry

William’s little brother may be a slightly troubled and controversial figure recently but he almost matches William when it comes to a love of bikes. Another former Triumph Daytona 675 rider, the now Duke of Sussex is known to have ridden bikes during his military tour in Afghanistan and the pair also famously did a motorcycle trek across southern Africa in 2008 in aid of charity.

Princess Elizabeth/Queen Elizabeth II

Yes, before becoming Queen Elizabeth II, the eldest daughter of King George VI is also known for a (albeit brief) flurry with bikes. In the latter days of WW2, the then 19-year-old princess did ‘her bit’ by joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in February 1945. There, although sleeping at home and not in the barracks with her fellow recruits, she trained as a driver and mechanic, reached the rank of Junior Commander and part of the course involved her learning to ride a military bike, as pictured, which we believe is either a BSA or Royal Enfield 250. Respect indeed!

Prince Albert/King George VI

Of course, Princess Elizabeth’s biking prowess is probably less of a surprise when you realise most people back in the 1930s and ‘40s could ride a bike and they were far more socially acceptable – so much so Elizabeth’s dad, the then Prince Albert (or ‘Bertie’ as he was commonly known), later King George VI, did so, too. As a young man, Bertie’s preferred choice of transport was in fact a Douglas 350, which he used (as pictured here) when a student at Cambridge in 1920.

Princess Margaret/Lord Snowden

Elizabeth wasn’t the only offspring of King George VI to continue his affection for two wheels. The future Queen’s younger, sometimes controversial, sister, Princess Margaret, is also known to have had a fling involving motorcycles – although this time on the pillion rather than actually riding. In 1960 Margaret married dashing, motorcycle riding society photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones (later Lord Snowden) who was known for, amongst other things, dashing to appointments around London on his beloved Norton 500 twin.  Margaret is reported as loving it, too, and on one occasion he’s reported to have stopped the royal motorcade the pair were riding in, ‘borrowed’ a police outrider’s motorcycle, and zipped off with Margaret on the back!

Lord Lichfield

Snowden, who sadly died in 2017 after divorcing Margaret in 1978, wasn’t the only Royal ‘Lord’ renown for loving motorcycles. Patrick Anson, the fifth Earl Lichfield, was just as much of a bike nut – and another successful society photographer, most famously taking the official photographs of Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981. A first cousin once removed of the Queen, Lichfield was a lifetime bike fan and was pictured with a succession of bikes through the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, although a particular favourite was his BMW R90S. He died in 2005 following a major stroke aged 66.

Zara Phillips/Mike Tindall

And… just when you might have thought we’d run out of British biking Royals… there’s more. Princess Anne’s second child, Zara Tindall (nee Phillips) is not only the Queen’s granddaughter and, like her mother, a hugely successful sportswoman, she also, like her late grandfather, Philip, has been seen riding around on monkey bikes, particularly at equestrian events. While further biking credibility comes from her husband, former England rugby union star Mike Tindall, who’s also a self-professed biker and has often been pictured aboard his beloved Harley Breakout taking part in charity ride-outs with the likes of Carl Fogarty.

Prince Albert of Monaco

We may have now run out of biking British Royals (unless you know otherwise) but it’d be remiss of us not to mention a couple of those from other royal households. Top of that list has to be former playboy Prince Albert of Monaco who, aside from competing in bobsleigh for the tiny principality in five successive Olympics, is also a major motorsport enthusiast and, in his younger years at least, was an occasional biker…

King Juan Carlos of Spain

While last but by no means least comes the former King Juan Carlos of Spain. Although he abdicated the Spanish throne in 2014 is now discredited and living in exile, the former monarch was also a known bike fan, often rode around Madrid incognito aboard his MV Agusta and regularly gave out the awards at Spain’s motorcycle Grand Prix. But then, we always knew Spain generally is bike mad!