On Thursday last week, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth's 97-year-old husband, was involved in a dramatic car crash after a vehicle containing two adults and a nine-month old baby plowed into the side of his Land Rover at an accident black spot near the royal country estate of Sandringham, flipping the SUV he was driving onto its side.
However, an initial flood of sympathy for Philip has now turned sour, after his behavior in the days following the crash revealed a shocking disdain for the law—and for the occupants of the other car, one of whom says she has not even received a coherent apology from him.
The optics were not good the day after the crash, when photographs emerged of a brand new Land Rover being delivered to the Sandringham estate, and got worse when it was reported that Philip, officially known as the Duke of Edinburgh, had ‘passed’ an eye test.
The day after that, Philip was pictured driving his spiffing new vehicle on public roads, while not wearing a seatbelt, as strictly required by law in the U.K.
The pictures were greeted with disbelief, and held up by some as evidence of the duke’s shocking arrogance.
Then the aggrieved passenger of the car which struck Philip's vehicle opened up to to the press.
Miraculously, Philip, who was pulled to safety through a sun roof by a passer-by, was unhurt, however the passenger in the other car, Emma Fairweather, 48, was not so lucky. She suffered a broken wrist, has been ordered off work for two months and is now mulling a personal accident claim against the ‘Duke of Hazard.’ Mercifully, neither the driver, nor her nine-month-old baby in the back of the smaller car, were seriously injured.
It is becoming increasingly likely that the crash was, legally speaking, entirely Philip’s fault. Fairweather gave a detailed interview to the Sunday Mirror this weekend in which she described seeing the duke’s car pull out from a smaller road onto the main road.
She told the Mirror: “We could see the Land Rover about 150 yards away from us at a junction, then it started to move. The speed limit was 60mph but my friend was doing no more than 50mph. I kept thinking he was going to stop but he didn’t.”
The duke, driving on a minor road and joining a major road, should have given way. Despite the fabulous results of his eye test, it seems he didn’t see the vehicle bearing down on him.
Or maybe he just assumed the smaller car would stop for him. One courtier told the Daily Mail that being accustomed to having roads cleared for them had bred “a sense of entitlement and invincibility” among the royals, adding that when that attitude was combined with “the duke’s age and stubbornness,” the result was “a potentially dangerous combination.”
As Philip was pulled out of the car, he is said to have claimed he was dazzled by the sun and exclaimed, “I’m such a fool.”
Industry analysts have calculated that Philip’s insurance premium would rise to over $40,000 if he had a standard policy.
Fairweather also claims that she has “been ignored” since the crash, saying: “It would mean the world to me if Prince Philip said sorry but I have no idea if he’s sorry at all.
“What would it have taken for him and the Queen to send me a card and a bunch of flowers?”
She said, “I got a call from a police family liaison officer. The message he passed on didn’t even make sense. He said, ‘The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh would like to be remembered to you.’ That’s not an apology or even a well-wish.”
The sense of outrage deepened as members of the public lined up to tell their own stories of close encounters with Philip.
One man who called a radio phone-in claimed, “The Duke of Edinburgh nearly killed me in an accident about 30 years ago.
“It was the second or third week of August in 1987 at around 6 o'clock. I was driving north on the A93 between Blairgowrie and Spittal of Glenshee and he came down the road, driving right down the middle of the road, chatting to ex-King Constantine of Greece. He wasn't concentrating.
“He crossed the white line and came right at us. Me and my passenger thought that our last seconds had come.
“I had to swerve out the way, knocked the wing mirror off, lost a quarter-bumper and a couple of wheel trims.”
A local Sandringham resident told the Mirror: “He’s 97, with a range of medical complaints, and drives as if he’s the only one on the road. If you saw him, you’d get ready to get out of the way.”
Teaching assistant Charlotte Tuffnell, of Fakenham, said: “He nearly ran my dad off the road a few years back.”
Businessman Patrick Daynes said he was left in a neck brace after the Duke ran into the back of his car at a zebra crossing in 1996.
“It was entirely his fault,” he said.