LONDON — A two-vehicle collision on an English country road was just an accident, and no charges will be filed against the driver who seemed to have been at fault, prosecutors said on Thursday — the kind of everyday decision that would ordinarily draw no attention.
Except that in this case, the 97-year-old driver in question is married to the queen, has a longstanding reputation for being a bit too fond of going fast and has drivers at the ready to take him wherever he might like to go.
When Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, had the accident last month, many in Britain and beyond wondered why he was driving at all, and the episode seemed all too familiar to countless people who have tried to persuade their elderly parents to give up the car keys.
It did not help his cause that two people in the other vehicle were injured in the accident, or that the prince, the duke of Edinburgh, was spotted driving again just two days later, this time without wearing a seatbelt, drawing a verbal warning from the local constabulary.
But on Saturday, Buckingham Palace announced that Philip had voluntarily surrendered his driver’s license. Whether any royal arm-twisting was involved remains a closely held secret.
Chris Long, chief prosecutor for eastern England, said in a statement about the accident released on Thursday, “We took into account all of the circumstances in this case, including the level of culpability, the age of the driver and the surrender of the driving license.”
“We have decided that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute,” he added. “All those involved in the collision have been informed and provided with a full explanation in writing.”
The crash, on Jan. 17, took place near the queen’s Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk, eastern England. Prince Philip’s Land Rover collided with a Kia minivan carrying two women and a baby; the prince’s vehicle flipped onto its side and came to a stop on the shoulder of the A149 road, while the minivan ended up a few feet away, nosed into a brush-filled ditch.
One of the women suffered a broken wrist and the other had cuts to her leg. The prince and the baby were unhurt.