22/11/2012 09:00 GMT

Queen Enjoys Trip In Motorhome At Bailey Of Bristol Plant In Ashton Vale (PICTURES)

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh went for a spin in a motorhome today as they toured a caravan factory.

The royal couple were ferried in a top of the range Approach SE 760 model at the Bailey of Bristol plant in Ashton Vale, Bristol.

It is believed to be the first time the Queen has been in a moving motorhome.


One must mind the step: The Queen after inspecting the £45k vehicle

The white van with silver and blue detailing, affectionately dubbed Mavis by the company, is the firm's show vehicle.

The monarch, who smiled as she settled into her seat facing the Duke, next to the motorhome's dinette, described the van as a "real home from home".

They journeyed just 200 metres in the pristine six-berth from the plant's reception to the factory warehouses.

The motorhome, which has enough beds for a family of six, also has a fully functioning kitchen including a gas hob, oven, microwave and fridge freezer, and a toilet, a shower, central heating and CD player with an MP3 connection.

Nick Howard, Bailey of Bristol's managing director who accompanied the Queen and the Duke on their brief motorhome experience, said: "They were impressed with it and how it was fully equipped.

"The Queen said it was a 'real home from home' in terms of its feel."

He added: "The Duke has some advice for us on layout. He said he made a bed arrangement for one of his horseboxes.

"He said the beds should be longitudinal rather than across the motorhome for ease of access."

Buckingham Palace said they believed the Queen had not travelled in a motorhome before.

The Approach SE 760 model, which costs around £45,395, is described by one reviewer as having a "palatial" u- shaped lounge at the back which is "great for feet up relaxing and for looking out, watching the world going by".

As well as a double bed above the driving seats, there are also further two beds.

The interior is decorated with pale "walnut" wood veneer and neutral coloured Vivaldi seat covers with purple flecks.

Simon Howard, marketing director at the firm, said: "It's palatial but perhaps not as palatial as they are used to."

Practical Motorhome Magazine named the model as the Best Family Motorhome 2012 in their annual awards.

The Queen, who was dressed in a pink double-breasted Stewart Parvin coat and Rachel Trevor-Morgan hat, and the Duke were visiting the factory to mark the 65th anniversary of the first Bailey caravan.

Their aptly named motorhome driver for the day was Paul Royall, who test-drives the motorhomes and takes them to shows.

Mr Royall, 35, from Horfield, revealed afterwards that he had a small mishap as he started the van.

"The motorhome was in gear and it rolled back a little bit. I think it looked more scary from the outside than the inside," he said.

He added: "I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. I'm the only person in the world to have driven the Queen in a motorhome."

queen motorhome

The Queen described the top-of-the-range motorhome as a 'home from home'

Inside the factory, the Queen and Philip were shown how the caravans and motorhomes are constructed.

Russell Bray, senior production manager, said the monarch described the motorhome she travelled in as "really nice":

"She was intrigued how we put all the furniture in first and how the last thing we do is box it up," Mr Bray said afterwards.

"I asked her if she enjoyed her trip in the motorhome and she said 'Yes, very much'. She said it was 'really nice'."

The Queen and the Duke were also shown inside a four berth Unicorn Cadiz caravan, which costs £20,000 and is the company's best selling model.

John Parker, sales director, who took them inside joked how he had been hoping to sell one to the royal party.

"She didn't have her credit card and I know the Queen doesn't carry cash. My only regret is that we didn't get an order but who knows? They might be back.

"The Queen was interested in the décor. She liked that."

The Cadiz featured the same neutral Vivaldi interior as the motorhome.

Bailey launched its first motorhome in October 2011.

Philip has been patron of the Caravan Club for 60 years since taking on the role in 1952. He has been inside numerous caravans over the years.

The Princess Royal actually owns a small caravan.

The roadworthy van - a third of the size of a regular one - was made especially for Anne and her brother the Prince of Wales as children and given to them in 1955.

As youngsters, they would play in the towable caravan, which has its own working sink, cupboards, electricity and two facing seats and an unconnected hob.

It lives in the Mews at Windsor and still technically belongs to the Princess Royal, but is used by the children of the Guards Officers at Windsor.

Workers at the factory gave the Queen a round of applause to mark her Diamond Jubilee as she unveiled a plaque.

Darren Phillips, 42, who chatted to the Duke said: "He said the vans were very nicely built."

As Philip was leaving, he remarked on assembly worker Stephen Brock's abundance of gold neck chains.

Mr Brock said afterwards: "He said 'Don't you believe in banks?' I just laughed and said 'I love my gold'."

Bailey employs over 300 people on its 14.5 acre site and manufactures more than 7,000 leisure vehicles a year and has an annual turnover of £90 million.

The royal couple visited the Bristol Old Vic Theatre to see at first hand the refurbishment work the venue has undergone.

The Queen and the Duke were welcomed by Laura Marshall, chair of the theatre board, and were then taken on a tour by artistic director Tom Morris and executive director Emma Stenning.

They took their seats in the dress circle to watch a 10-minute technical rehearsal of Peter Pan, which starred Tristan Sturrock as Peter Pan and Madeleine Worrall as Wendy.

The Queen and Duke then went to see the refurbished Royal Box and sat and listened as members of the Bristol Old Vic Young Company performed for the couple two songs they had written - Remember, Remember and Fly Away.

After the performance, the Queen and Duke toured the backstage area, including a dressing room, and met the cast and production staff.

Toby Yapp, 11, a member of the young company, presented Her Majesty with a replica silver token.

The token is a copy of one of the 50 that were handed to the people that helped found the theatre in the 18th century to thank them for their philanthropy.

After receiving the gift, the Queen unveiled a plaque to mark the royal visit.

As the couple left the theatre Her Majesty was presented with a bouquet of flowers by 11-year-old Peggy Edwards, another member of the young company, and whose mother Katie Sykes designed the costumes for Peter Pan.

The Bristol Old Vic is halfway through a multi-million pound refurbishment and only reopened in September after being closed for 18 months.

So far, £12 million has been spent renovating the Grade One listed auditorium and backstage area.

The next phase will redevelop the front-of-house area and aims to be completed in time for the theatre's 250th anniversary in 2016.

Speaking after the visit, Miss Worrall said the Queen and Duke took a great interest in the production.

"They were asking at what stage we were at in rehearsals," the actress said.

"His Royal Highness observed to Tristan that it all looked quite dangerous but Tristan reassured him that we do get a lot of practice."