Can the Queen, Kate Middleton or Other Members of the Royal Family Get Arrested?

When you think of the perks of being a royal so many things come to mind like the fact that they are rich and famous, have regal titles, and live in palaces. But another one not too many people are aware of is a little something called Sovereign Immunity.

So what exactly does the term mean and who does it apply to? Here’s what you need to know about which members of the British royal family can and can’t end up in handcuffs if they break the law.

Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton

Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton | Phil Noble/AFP/Getty Images

What is Sovereign Immunity?

In the U.K., Sovereign Immunity or Crown Immunity as its sometimes referred to is a doctrine stating that the monarch can do no wrong. In other words, if Queen Elizabeth II decided to go on a crime spree she would not be arrested or prosecuted for anything even if she confessed or there was extremely strong evidence against her. But just because Her Majesty is above the law doesn’t mean she goes around breaking the law (even though she technically could).

The royal family’s website states, “Although civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign as a person under U.K. law, the queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law.”

Does it apply to any of her family members?

So now we know that Queen Elizabeth is immune from being arrested no matter what, but how about the other members of the royal family like Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle?

Unlike the queen, they can go to jail if they commit a crime. The blanket immunity is only for the head of state so the other royals could, in fact, be arrested and prosecuted. However, there are a few loopholes for Prince Charles, his sons, and their wives.

According to the legal encyclopedia Halsbury’s Laws of England, members of the royal household cannot be arrested in civil proceedings, they cannot be cuffed in a monarch’s presence, and no arrest can take place in or near the palace.

Which royal was convicted of a criminal offense?

If you just can’t imagine any royal being punished for a crime know that it has happened before and with the queen’s own daughter.

In 2001, Princess Anne was cited for speeding when she was clocked doing 93 mph in a 70 mph zone. Not only was she ticketed and had to pay a fine of over $500, but she was also given five penalty points on her driving license.

Then, the following the year, the Princess Royal became the first member of the royal family to be convicted of a criminal offense when she pleaded guilty to a charge under the “dangerous dogs act.” The charge came after her bull terrier, Dotty, attacked two children as they walked through a park. For that, she was fined around $650 and ordered to pay $325 in compensation and almost $200 in court costs.

Read more: What Does the British Royal Family Tree Look Like and What Is the Line of Succession to the Throne?

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