Dozens of photographs have emerged of members of the Royal Family driving or being driven on public roads without wearing a seatbelt, with older members of the family seemingly less likely to buckle up than the younger generation.
It comes after both the Queen and Prince Philip were spotted without a seatbelt in the days following the Prince’s recent car crash.
It has since been claimed the pair even have their cars made with the seat belt alarms disabled. A source told the Sun that Jaguar Land Rover are instructed to disable the alarms on cars for the royal couple ‘so that the driver doesn’t have the continuous warning beeps if they don’t wear a seat belt.’
And footage has emerged of the aftermath of a crash in 1964 where the Duke reportedly ran another car off the road as he drove the Queen through Holyport, near Windsor.
This photograph of the Queen driving her granddaughter-in-law on the Balmoral estate in 2016 illustrates a generational divide in the royal family between young seatbelt-wearers and older Royals who tend not to buckle up
William and Kate went without seatbelts on their wedding day in a vintage convertible Aston Martin – but in the main photos show the Cambridges tend to strap themselves in
However former royal protection officers have said sometimes a decision will be made based on a ‘threat matrix’ that it is safer for a member of the royal family not to wear a seatbelt – and they are also exempted under law from having to wear seatbelts during certain processional or ceremonial journeys.
On Friday January 17, Prince Philip was involved in a car accident near the couple’s Sandringham estate.
The 97-year-old Prince’s Land Rover Freelander flipped onto its side in the collision, as he pulled out of the B1439 near the Queen’s Norfolk estate on to the A149.
His car rolled after colliding with a Kia carrying two women and a nine-month-old baby. The 28-year-old driver suffered a knee injury and her 45-year-old passenger sustained a broken wrist. The baby boy strapped into the back seat escaped serious injury. Both drivers were breath-tested and provided negative readings.
The very next day, the Queen was spotted driving on a public road without a seatbelt.
The Queen was spotted driving her Range Rover without a seatbelt on January 18, 2019, the day after Prince Philip’s crash, little more than a mile from the scene of her husband’s accident
But when they came to Windsor for Christmas dinner in December the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were safely belted up
The 92-year-old monarch was on a road near Sandringham on Friday 18, little more than a mile from the scene of her husband’s accident.
She learned to drive with the Army in 1945, before she became Queen, and does not need a licence.
Under UK law it is compulsory to wear a seatbelt if there is one fitted but the Queen is immune from any civil or criminal proceedings – since British courts operate in her name and she cannot prosecute herself.
The day after that, the Prince was snapped behind the wheel of a hastily-delivered replacement Land Rover, without a legally-mandated seatbelt.
Prince Philip (pictured) was spotted behind the wheel of his brand new Land Rover on Saturday just two days after flipping his car in a horror crash with no seatbelt on
William and Kate were both clearly wearing safety belts leaving Buckingham Palace last month
Seatbelt law timeline
Prior to 1983 it was not compulsory to wear a seatbelt on UK roads.
That year, seatbelt regulations for drivers and front-seat passengers came into force.
In 1989, wearing rear seatbelts became compulsory for children under 14.
In 1991 it became compulsory for adults to wear seatbelts in the back of a car as well.
Driving without a seatbelt is punishable by a fine of up to £500 but police said officers simply gave the 97-year-old Duke a ticking-off on that occasion.
Photos reveal this month’s vehicular indiscretions are hardly the first time a Royal has been seen driving – or being driven – on a public road without a seatbelt on.
In archive photographs dating back almost 30 years, the Queen and Prince Philip – both of whom are well known for preferring to drive than to be driven – often seem happy to take their seat behind the wheel unencumbered by a seatbelt.
Since the Queen learned to drive in 1945, for the first 38 years of her motoring life it was not illegal to drive without wearing one. On the other hand pictures of the younger royals – for whom mandatory seat belt wearing has been the law for as long as they can remember – tend to show the Cambridges and the Sussexes safely buckled up.
Prince Philip at the wheel of his car at the Windsor Horse Show in 1991, without a seatbelt
Prince Philip was at the wheel driving the Queen, Prince Edward, and his then girlfriend Sophie Rhys Jones to church at Windsor Castle in 1995 but none of the royals seem to be strapped in
The Queen’s eyes were locked on the road at Sandringham in 1995 but her seatbelt was not locked into place
The Prince’s seat belt hung loosely behind him, as he drove the Queen out of Windsor Castle in their British racing green Jaguar April 2002
The Duke of Edinburgh likes to be the one to drive his wife to royal engagements but often, as in this 2003 photograph, (left) he is snapped not wearing a seatbelt. And in February 2002 (pictured right) he and the Queen drove back to Windsor Castle after attending church at the royal lodge but the Queen was not wearing her seatbelt
At the same event two years later the Queen was once again at the wheel unharnessed
The Queen was pictured without a seatbelt arriving to give her pointed speech about compromise, widely believed to be directed at politicians fighting about Brexit, at the Sandringham Women’s Institute (WI) meeting at West Newton Village Hall this week
The Queen’s children have a mixed record when it comes to buckling up, with some seeming to be much more conscientious than others.
Prince Andrew has been seen wearing his seatbelt on numerous occasions, but his older sister Princess Anne seems to take things less seriously.
Prince Charles tends to buckle up these days but was more lax in the 1980s as this photograph shows.
In this undated file photograph Princes Charles looks to be enjoying driving his Aston Martin without a seatbelt. The D prefix on the number plate means this photograph cannot pre-date 1986 – a full three years after it became law for drivers to wear seatbelts
Several years later with his teenage sons in the back the Prince of Wales was buckled up for the journey to the Easter service at Crathie Kirk in Balmoral
A lavish dinner was held in 2007 to mark the then-forthcoming diamond wedding anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip. Princess Anne arrived at Clarence House without a seat belt on
Princess Anne was chauffeured to family Christmas last December but relaxed in the back of her Bentley without a belt for safety
On the day of Princess Eugenie’s wedding her family – Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson, and Princess Beatrice – all went unbuckled too
Prince Edward drove his rover away from the Hyatt Carlton Hotel in London safely strapped in
Prince Andrew buckled up safely to drive his friends away from The Rock nightclub in London
But Prince Andrew seems not to have strapped himself in, in the back seat, leaving church
If the Queen and Prince Philip seem to have the most lax attitude to strapping in, and their children can be a little hit-and-miss, the younger generation of royals seem much more consistent in their approach to road safety.
At the wedding of the now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, the happy couple drove a vintage Aston Martin without either belting up. And last year Harry and Meghan also took to an open-topped car in order to smile and wave at well-wishers without seatbelts on.
On one or two other occasions the Cambridges and the Sussexes have been spotted without their belts on, but in the main the couples seem to be happy to strap in.
The future king in military uniform and his bride in her wedding dress waved to crowds with the roof of their convertible down – but were not buckled up
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were all smiles behind the wheel on their wedding day in May 2018 but neither Harry nor Meghan seem to be wearing a seatbelt
In 2017 (left, in London) and again last year (right, in Norway) the Duchess of Cambridge was spotted without a seatbelt on
But when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive for Prince of Wales 70th party both were safely strapped in
This picture from a car journey back from the Queen’s Christmas lunch may feature some revealing facial expressions – but at least William looks to be wearing his seatbelt
Kate’s seatbelt is clearly visible across her bold pink ensemble worn in December 2018
The Duchess of Sussex arrived at the same event last month safely strapped in to her seat
Harry’s seatbelt is clearly visible across his shoulder as he and his wife arrive for Christmas lunch with his family
Former royal protection officer Simon Morgan, told Hello magazine earlier this month that sometimes royals go belt-less for their own safety, for example if they might need to make a quick escape.
He said: ‘There are always anomalies. In the threat and risk matrix it’s a matter of looking at each individual situation to decide what is the best way of achieving what needs to be achieved.
‘For example, considering that a quick entry or exit to a vehicle is easier when people aren’t strapped into seatbelts.’
He suggested sometimes personal preference was allowed to trump the law of the land, however, adding: ‘Is an individual’s look and appearance important? And also an individual’s choice’.
Mr Cooper (left) is interviewed by a reporter following his collision with Prince Philip in June 1964. He claims the Duke pushed his vehicle ‘right across the road’
Seatbelts save an estimated 2,000 lives a year in the UK.
In 1988 an in-depth study of road accident casualties used information from casualties presenting to hospital in Oxfordshire in 1983 and 1984.
There were five fatal injuries in the 70 occupants who were unbelted, and 16 fatal injuries among the 925 who were belted – the different sample sizes reflecting the preponderance of UK motorists observing the seatbelt law.
In that data sample, more than seven out of 100 unbelted motorists died in their crashes, while only 1.7 out of 100 died who were wearing a seatbelt.
Drivers and passengers can be fined £500 for not wearing a seatbelt. Drivers can face three penalty points and even passengers can be awarded two penalty points on their own licence.
Shaken but not stirred: Prince Philip’s horror smash
Incredibly the 97-year-old Duke of Edinburgh walked away from a car crash which left his armoured Land Rover lying on its side on a Norfolk road earlier this month.
Two woman in the Kia with which his car collided were hurt – the driver suffered a knee injury and a 45-year-old passenger was left with a broken wrist – but a baby boy strapped into the back seat escaped without being hurt.
Speaking after being pulled from his vehicle, the Prince blamed ‘sun in his eyes’ for the crash, at the junction of the B1439 and the A149 near Sandringham in Norfolk.
Prince Philip was described as ‘conscious but very shocked and shaken’ after a dramatic crash near his Sandringham Estate which left two women in the other vehicle in hospital and the Land Rover he was driving on its side in a crumpled heap
Philip is believed to have just left Sandringham, circled red, and was turning on to the A149 at this junction when he collided with a Kia and his car cartwheeled on to the other side of the road, circled blue
Roy Warne, 75, was driving home from hospital with his wife Victoria, 72, who had just been given the all clear from breast cancer, when he saw the Duke’s car ‘tumbling across the road’.
He helped free the ‘conscious’ but ‘very shaken and shocked’ royal through the 4×4’s sunroof as the Duke shouted: ‘My legs! Where should I put my legs?’
Mr Warne said: ‘He [Philip] wasn’t rude. He was very shaken and he went and asked: ‘Is everyone else alright?’. He’s a very brave man. He didn’t make a big fuss about it’.
He added: ‘He is lucky to be alive. I saw the Duke’s car careering, tumbling across the road – it ended up on the other side, having rolled right over. It was an astonishing escape for everyone. People could have been killed. The impact was enormous’.
Mr Warne said he wasn’t sure where the Duke’s security detail had been but added that police arrived on the scene in a different car ‘very quickly’, once he had pulled Philip out.
Norfolk Police have declined to divulge details of the crash investigation, saying it was ‘ongoing’.
But they have confirmed they carried out an eyesight test which the Prince passed. It is understood the Duke was asked to read a number plate from 65ft away.
Cameras fitted to Royal cars for security reasons are thought to be able to record and transmit live images to personal protection officers. It is understood that the cameras on Philip’s Land Rover were filming from several angles as the accident unfolded.
If the footage suggests that Philip was at fault and driving carelessly, then it could be used as evidence in a prosecution. Magistrates would have the power to fine him £5,000, disqualify him from driving or put nine penalty points on his licence.
Shattered car parts and windscreen glass at the scene near to the Sandringham Estate where the Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road accident while driving
Images emerged showing Philip’s black Land Rover with severe damage to its left side
Less than 24 hours after the crash a replacement Land Rover Freelander was delivered for the Duke of Edinburgh at Sandringham