Can Police Arrest Prince Philip After His Recent Car Crash?

The recent car crash involving Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, has raised many questions from the public and the authorities, who are still investigating what happened. Since there have been calls for the 97-year-old to be prosecuted if he is found at fault many are wondering if members of the royal family can actually be arrested.

Here’s the answer to that, plus whether the Duke of Edinburgh still has a license and what he did just days after the accident that led to police issuing him an official warning.

Prince Philip

Prince Philip | Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

What we know about the crash so far

According to several news outlets, on the afternoon of Jan. 17, Prince Philip was behind the wheel of his Land Rover near the royal family’s Sandringham estate when he was involved in a collision with another vehicle. Philip’s SUV rolled over on its side from the impact. Following the crash, the palace released a statement saying that “The Duke was not injured.”

As for the driver of the other car, she suffered some cuts and bruises while her passenger sustained a broken wrist. The two women were also traveling with an infant in the backseat, however, the child was not hurt.

Both parties were given breathalyzer tests, which came back negative.

The palace also confirmed that Philip does have a valid driver’s license as only the queen is exempt from holding one.

Why police gave Philip an official warning

Just days after the crash, a photographer for the Daily Mail snapped photos of the prince without his seatbelt on while driving to his estate. Once the appropriate authorities were notified, the royal was given an official warning.

Norfolk police said that “suitable words of advice have been given to the driver. This is in line with our standard response when being made aware of such images.”

Prince Philip

Prince Philip | Yui Mok/AFP/Getty Images

Can members of the royal family be arrested?

The queen has something called Sovereign Immunity, which 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.

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.”

As for Prince Philip and the rest of the family though, they are not above the law and actually could be arrested and prosecuted for a crime. This was the case for Princess Anne who in 2002 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.

So when it comes to Prince Philip and the investigation into the crash, Norfolk’s former roads policing chief Chris Spinks told the BBC that “he will be dealt with like any other driver” and there will not be any “favoritism.”

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