The day mechanics Chris and Fred came to aid of ill-fated royal limo

Chris Tate and Fred Budd will never forget the words of their boss as they watched the Queen and Prince Philip being driven past the garage where they worked.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's Rolls-Royce was pictured sweeping through the streets of Wolverhampton during their Silver Jubilee tour of the West Midlands in 1977. The car broke down at Walsall and mechanics Chris Tate and Fred Budd were called to repair it
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's Rolls-Royce was pictured sweeping through the streets of Wolverhampton during their Silver Jubilee tour of the West Midlands in 1977. The car broke down at Walsall and mechanics Chris Tate and Fred Budd were called to repair it

“I hope that thing doesn’t break down,” muttered their service manager Terry Stanley, as he eyed up the royal couple’s gleaming Rolls-Royce.

A couple of hours later, it did. And Fred and Chris ended up having to fix it.

The pair were mechanics at the P J Evans Rolls-Royce garage in Sedgley, Dudley, when the royal couple visited the West Midlands during the Silver Jubilee celebrations in July 1977.

It was a bright, sunny morning, and the trio briefly broke off from work to watch the cavalcade drive past as it headed towards Wolverhampton.

And when Mr Stanley received a call at lunchtime that the car had indeed broken down, he assumed it was a joke.

“Because he had said that, about the Queen’s car breaking down, he thought when he took the call it was a joke,” says Chris, who was out on a job at the time.

Chris Tate helped fix the royal limo during a visit by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 1977

Fred, who was tucking into a fish and chips lunch, didn't believe it either.

“I was sitting in the canteen eating my chips when the service manager came in and said ‘Get your tools together Fred, the Queen’s car’s broken down’," he recalls.

“I panicked for a bit, then I thought it was a wind-up, and sat down again, I carried on eating my chips.”

He was quickly put right.

While the Rolls-Royce Phantom Landaulette had behaved impeccably during the visit to Wolverhampton, it broke down as the tour reached Walsall.

"Terry and Fred went up to Walsall Town Hall, where the car had broken down, and they found that the fuel pump had gone. They managed to fix it so it could be driven back to the garage, but it had to be kept in overnight," says Chris.

Fred Budd helped fix the royal limo during a visit by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 1977

"They lent her a brand new black Silver Shadow II to complete the journey, and me and Fred fixed the car the next day.

"Terry had to drive over to the factory in Crewe to get a new fuel pump."

Chris, who was just 21 at the time, says it was a daunting experience.

"I was both really shocked and nervous," says Chris. "Not just because of whose car it was, but because all the time we worked on it we were surrounded by police officers, we couldn't do anything on our own."

The Queen's equerry wrote a letter to Mr Stanley thanking them.

Chris, now working once more with Fred on a part-time basis after taking semi-retirement last year, says he was always a huge admirer of the Duke and was saddened by his death.

"I thought he was a cracking fellow," says Chris. "I thought he was one of us, he called a spade a spade, I really liked him, I'm sad that he has died."

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