By Siobhán O’Grady / The Washington Post
When Britain’s Prince Philip flipped his Land Rover last month and miraculously walked away from what could have been a deadly accident, many wondered how long it would take for Queen Elizabeth II to ask him to hand over his keys for good.
The answer? About three weeks, it would seem.
Buckingham Palace announced Saturday that “after careful consideration,” the 97-year-old “has taken the decision to voluntarily surrender his driving license.”
Whether Elizabeth actually influenced the decision hasn’t been made public, of course, but experts on the royal family suggested last month that she would be the one to make the call.
“It will be the queen, she’ll be the only one who can really tell him,” Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of Majesty Magazine, told British ITV after the crash. “And I’m sure she’ll be very annoyed with him, obviously sympathetic, but will be saying ‘Now Philip, this is enough.’”
The crash earned quite a bit of attention in Britain, where many didn’t realize the queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, still drove. It’s unclear what exactly led to the crash between his Land Rover and another driver’s Kia, which was carrying a 9-month-old baby. The baby survived the crash unharmed, although the Kia’s driver had a broken wrist and the other adult in the vehicle was treated for cuts.
Witnesses to the crash were in disbelief that anyone, and especially someone of Philip’s age, could have walked away from it so easily. In fact, Philip wasn’t even injured, a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace confirmed at the time.
One witness, Roy Warne, told Britain’s Sun newspaper that he heard Philip claim he’d been “dazzled by the sun.”
“He was disorientated and humbled,” Warne said. “I believe he was very sorry about what had happened. The sun was very low in the sky.”
That humbling didn’t appear to prevent Philip from hitting the road again soon after. Just two days later, he was caught on camera driving a new Land Rover – this time without a seat belt.
A spokeswoman for Norfolk Constabulary told CNN that police had seen the photographs and “suitable words of advice have been given to the driver.”
Philip, who also held a pilot’s license, stopped flying at age 76 but continued to drive for more than two decades — even chauffeuring President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in 2016, the year before he retired from public duties.