The ten best and five worst biking royals

Published: 01 March 2013

You may be surprised to learn just how many royals past and present have come in to contact with bikes, be it good or bad.

We list the best and worst.

The best

1. Prince Harry
In the news this week having returned from his latest Afghan tour as an Apache pilot, there’s no doubting the Third-in-Line’s biking CV: DT125 then Daytona 675 and Ducati 848, pillion to Randy Mamola aboard the Ducati MotoGP twin-seater, Enduro Africa off-roader and even Harleys. After finishing weapons training in the US he rode to Vegas on a Road King and ended up being snapped semi-naked partying with some girls in his hotel room. Guns, bikes, bikinis… he’s a single 28-year-old ferchrissakes. It should be compulsory.
2. Lord Patrick Lichfield
Here’s another life worth envying. Official photographer to the Royals (he shot the Charles/Di wedding portraits) the handsome ex-Harrovian and Grenadier Guardsman’s swinging Sixties lifestyle had most red-blooded males green with envy: Stately pile and Mustique holiday home, 17-year gig as snapper for the saucy Unipart calendar, friend of The Stones, one-time squeeze Britt Ekland and, oh, genuine bike nut. He died 2005 aged 66 but even at 59 said: “As you get older you have to give some things up – but I still ride my bike…”
3. Prince William
Just as bike mad as his younger brother but the 30-year-old’s mellowing now  his first child is on the way. Last reported owning a Ducati 1198R (after earlier celebrating his 21st birthday in July 2003 by spending £7000 of his own cash on a red Triumph Daytona 600) and also a Honda Blackbird owner. Famously took part, with Harry (and MCN staffer Michael Guy), in the 1500km Enduro Africa charity ride in 2008.
4. King Hussein
The playboy King of Jordan from 1956 until his death in 1999 was another genuine petrolhead collecting both cars and bikes (a favourite being a ‘20s Brough) and taking part in various rallies, hill climbs and sprints. In fact his collection was so vast that, following his death, son and successor (and similar motorhead) Abdullah II built up a Royal Automobile Museum to house them in his memory.
5. Viscount Linley
The late Princess Margaret’s eldest and bespoke furniture maker is also a Triumph enthusiast. Now 51, David, as he prefers, had a series of Trumpets including an early Hinckley Daytona, a 1979 Meriden-built T140V and a 2001, Hinckley 790cc Bonnie, the latter two both sold recently at auction. He once said: “I’ll never forget the moment in 1985 when I was riding my motorbike down the King’s Road and saw the ‘David Linley’ sign on my first shop.”
6. King Juan Carlos
King of Spain since Franco (1975), modest and popular, the now 70-year-old is also famously an incognito biker often seen in Madrid aboard an MV F4. Legend has it that, one hot, sunny day, a motorcyclist ran out of fuel in a remote part of Spain. A fellow biker came to his aid and returned with a small can of fuel. The good Samaritan, on removing his helmet, turned out to be Juan Carlos…
7. King George VI
Not a lot of people know this but… the current Queen’s dad, in his youth as Prince Albert, was a full-on bike nut, learning to ride during WW1 while serving in the Royal Navy then later (as per pic) having a Douglas while a Cambridge student. Apparently his father, King George V, wasn’t particularly impressed, and considered that ‘gentlemen’ should instead be chauffeured in a car…
8. Antony Armstrong-Jones/Lord Snowden
Like son, like father… husband to Princess Margaret and father of David Linley (see above) society photographer Snowden was also a genuine motorcyclist, famously lapping the TT circuit aboard a borrowed Triumph during a visit to the Isle of Man in 1965 (pictured). He assured reporters afterwards that he “Didn’t do more than 90!”
9. Pierre Casiraghi
Who? You may well ask. But as far as Euro royals go the 25-year-old third in line to the throne of Monaco is about as eligible as they get – and a true biker. Often seen riding around the Cote d’Azur aboard his MV Agusta 910R Brutale he’s the youngest son of Princess Caroline of Monaco, grandson of Grace Kelly and beau to a long line of fashion models. The git.
10. The Queen
Yes, The Queen rides a motorbike. Ore rather, she DID in her younger days while still Princess Elizabeth during WWII while serving in the ATS (Auxilliary Training Service). Aged 19 the future Queen learnt how to change lorry tyres and spark plugs and also ride a bike – specifically a military-spec, 250cc BSA C10. Sadly we’ve no evidence that she’s ridden since, which is why she’s placed 10th…

Five who need to try harder...

1. Princess Stephanie
Monaco’s wild child, younger daughter of Princess Grace and infamous party animal, Stephanie’s flings with bikes are unexpectantly few and far between, limited to the odd pillion ride (pictured) as patron of Monaco’s AIDs Foundation. Must try harder…
2. Prince Phillip
OK, at 91 it’s probably a bit late now, but Prince Phil had enough chances in his early years to fully get into bikes without ever quite doing it. Regular TT visits in the late 60s, a fondness for minibikes around the Windsor estate and yet… it could, and perhaps should, have led to so much more.
3. Zara Phillips
Silver medal eventer at the London Olympics, 2006 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, granddaughter of Prince Phil and husband to sometime biker and ex-rugby union star Mike Tindall, you’d think, given that background, Zara might’ve done more two-wheeling than the odd mini bike blast around the estate. Sadly not.
4. Prince Andrew
Whatever went wrong? Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s ‘Randy Andy’ was surefire biker material: the cool action man of the three princes; helicopter pilot, bon viveur, good time guy. Then it all seemed to go wrong. This, sadly, is his closest recorded interaction with anything motorcycling.
5. Prince Charles
The heir to the throne is many things, many of them honourable, but he’s never been a fan of bikes, despite appearances, saying: “I hate motorbikes. My sons are interested in them. I always worry about them. It's about other cars not being able to see you. I'm always telling my sons that.” At least he didn’t stop them…