Banbury makes big contribution to HM the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations

Jemma Callow is transformed into a 1945 Land Army girl for a performance in front of the Queen
Jemma Callow is transformed into a 1945 Land Army girl for a performance in front of the Queen
Share this article

A group of Banbury Royalists gave a boost of authenticity to a televised extravaganza to mark HM The Queen’s 90th birthday.

Central to the group’s contribution to the arena event was the provision of an Austin Tilly military vehicle, renovated and repainted to match exactly the one driven by Princess Elizabeth during the Second World War.

Jemma Callow does the Lindy Hop with a fellow re-enactor NNL-160523-155739001

Jemma Callow does the Lindy Hop with a fellow re-enactor NNL-160523-155739001

The vehicle, owned by Reg Busby of Long Compton, was restored by him and his nephew, professional photographer Nathan Portlock-Allan of Broughton.

“The Histocal Re-enactment Society came to us because they knew of our vehicle.

“The Queen had expressly asked if they could supply a Tilly like the one she had driven and they needed it within ten days.

“Ours was air force blue so within a week I had to respray it khaki and stencil the same markings and her number to match the exact vehicle the princess had driven,” said Mr Portlock-Allan.

Nathan Portlock-Allan with the Austin Tilly he restored to make it match precisely the one Princess Elizabeth drove during the war

Nathan Portlock-Allan with the Austin Tilly he restored to make it match precisely the one Princess Elizabeth drove during the war

Mr Portlock-Allan was joined by three others, Jemma Callow from Broughton, Luke Harris from Banbury and friend Chris Pacey from Halifax.

Once at Windsor, where the event was being staged as part of the Royal Windsor Horse Show, the four were kitted out in wartime clothes to rehearse for the Second World War section of the show.

Ms Callow was a Land Army girl and Mr Portlock-Allan was a regular soldier of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire regiment - and the Tilly driver.

“Most of the evening was equestrian demonstrations but our part in the show illustrated the princess’s early war years in the ATS where she worked in the training command motor transport unit.

Princess Elizabeth and the Austin Tilly she drove as part of her war service

Princess Elizabeth and the Austin Tilly she drove as part of her war service

“We had five days of rehearsals before five evening performances, although one was cancelled because of rain,” said Mr Portlock-Allan.

“The Queen made a separate visit specially to see the vehicle and I was lucky enough to be invited to a special reception for performers in Windsor Castle with others including actor Martin Clunes, and Ant and Dec who were presenting the event.

“Her Majesty was there with the Duke of Edinburgh and others. It was a massive honour,” he said.

The Austin Tilly restored for the televised 90th Birthday Extravaganza for HM The Queen at Windsor Park

The Austin Tilly restored for the televised 90th Birthday Extravaganza for HM The Queen at Windsor Park

Luke Harris and fellow re-enactor Bryan Warnett at the NAAFI wagon

Luke Harris and fellow re-enactor Bryan Warnett at the NAAFI wagon