When one writes for a publication focused on foods and beverages, one does not necessarily expect to spend much of one’s time writing about His Royal Highness Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO, CC, PC, ADC, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland—not least because HRH does not often, if ever, place food into his royal mouthage whilst on camera. Yet the time may come when one encounters a story that one cannot pass by, and today, fellow rabble, is one such day. Today one learned that HRH has most nobly and judiciously requested that his Aston Martin be reconfigured to run on an alternative fuel source, and the source in question is white wine—at least, in a manner of speaking. According to his most illustrious personage and his esteemed nostrils, it smells delicious.
A pair of stories from The Telegraph illuminate this most interesting development. The Prince Of Wales And Also Of Other Places has spent many years working for conservation, an effort that extends to making sure his most royal modes of transport and conveyance run on alternative fuels. They’re not practical alternative fuels, per se, but alternative is certainly accurate, and made possible by some engineers who would probably never had attempted had they not been so Windsorially urged.
When it comes to HRH’s Aston Martin Volante—which HRH was had since HRH was 21, and which has been driven by HRH and HRH’s family of HRHs many times over the years—the changes were made when Charles demanded they be made:
“They discovered they could run it on surplus English white wine, but also I hadn’t realised that they had mixed whey into it too,” he says.
“The engineers at Aston said, ‘Oh, it’ll ruin the whole thing’.
“I said, ‘Well I won’t drive it then’, so they got on with it and now they admit that it runs better and is more powerful on that fuel than it is on petrol.
“And also, it smells delicious as you’re driving along.”
While it’s tempting to say that Charles’s wine-car is a lot like an oil lamp that saves on using oil by substituting caviar and diamond-juice, it’s not quite so simple. As the second of the Telegraph pieces explains, it’s not as though His Esteemed Majesty simply grabs a bottle of Two Buck Chuck (sorry, Two Pounds-Sterling Charles) and pours it into his sweet ride (sorry, elegant vehicular creation):
The Aston Martin in question was in fact modified to run on a fuel called E85, which is a mixture of bioethanol and petrol. Bioethanol, a biofuel and fuel additive, can be derived from a huge number of sources – including, but not limited to, waste biomass such as surplus wine...
Think of a flaming sambuca. You can set fire to the ethanol contained in sambuca using a cigarette lighter, and a generous shot glass might burn for up to a minute before eventually spluttering out... Bioethanol as a fuel is similar to a flaming sambuca, except it’s got much more booze in it than anything you’d buy in an off licence, and nobody’s going to add a coffee bean.
So it isn’t so much a wine-powered vehicular creation as a car that runs on an alternative fuel made from wine waste that “smells delicious as you’re driving along.” Still not as practical as, say, gas, but His Majesty’s point is made.
The other of the esteemed Duke of Cornwall’s transportation hacks is, if possible, even more surprising, if less fancy. The Royal Train now runs on used cooking oil. “It took me a long time to battle them to get them to run it” on the oil, he told the Telegraph, noting that in the end, it worked well. But then he added, “But I don’t know. They say it clogs up the engine or something.”
Chuck Windsor also owns a Jaguar I-Pace, the first all-electric car in the Royal Garage, which he described as “silent but deadly” when first driving it in public.