Queen was urged to ‘slow down and concentrate’ while driving Saudi Crown Prince

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Queen Elizabeth II has recently been resting on the advice of doctors amid health concerns for the 95-year-old monarch. Her Majesty underwent tests last month as she was admitted to hospital for her first overnight stay in eight years. The Queen has cancelled a string of public engagements in recent weeks after a packed royal schedule. Her visit to Northern Ireland last month was scrapped, as was her in-person appearance at the COP26 climate summit earlier in November.

It is believed she has been advised to be careful with her health, especially because of the jubilee celebrations next year.

The Queen will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee next summer in recognition of her historic 70 years on the throne – the longest in British royal history.

During her reign, the Queen has lived through world-changing events and Her Majesty’s numerous interactions with world leaders have produced countless anecdotes about her importance as the UK’s head of state.

One such tale was the Queen being told to “slow down and concentrate” while driving King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia around Balmoral.

The late former ruler of the gulf nation met the Queen in 1998 when he was still the Crown Prince, as she hosted him at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.

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The two royals’ interaction was recounted by British diplomat Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles in his 2012 memoir.

The book, ‘Ever the Diplomat: Confessions of a Foreign Office Mandarin’, revealed how the Queen had taken the Prince out for a drive at the Scottish estate.

Sir Sherard, who was Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2003 to 2006, was said to have been told the story separately by each of the pair.

The former mandarin wrote: “After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate.

“Prompted by his foreign minister, the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah had agreed.

“The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle.

“As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, his interpreter in the seat behind.”

Abdullah was apparently unaware that the Queen would be the one driving him that day at Balmoral, according to Sir Sherard.

He wrote: “To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off.

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“Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen.”

Women in Saudi Arabia were eventually granted the right to drive in 2018 several years after Abdullah’s death.

The Queen’s own informal style behind the wheel, as she chatted to the Prince, was said to have made him rather nervous.

Sir Sherard wrote: “Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.”

The Queen honed her driving skills during World War 2 after enlisting in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1944.

Aged just 18 at the time, Her Majesty, who was then still a Princess, was part of the war effort, which for a time had used conscription to get women to join the armed forces in non-combat roles.

‘Ever the Diplomat: Confessions of a Foreign Office Mandarin’ was written by Sherard Cowper-Coles and published by Harper Press in 2012. It is available here.

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