By some good fortune, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s 97-year-old husband, and a 9-month-old baby emerged unscathed from a car wreck near the royal Sandringham estate on Thursday, after a frightening and violent collision that is now under investigation by local police.
The Norfolk Constabulary, the local police for the county northeast of London where sprawling Sandringham is located, issued a statement Friday confirming that the other car involved in the collision was a Kia driven by a 28-year-old woman, who suffered cuts to her knee, and her passenger, a 45-year-old woman who suffered a broken wrist.
“Police can also confirm a 9-month-old baby boy was in the Kia at the time of the incident and was uninjured,” the police statement said.
The women were treated at nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and were released Thursday night.
“The male driver of the Land Rover was uninjured,” the statement added, referring to Philip, whose armored Land Rover was flipped over by the violence of the collision.
Buckingham Palace provided an update on the prince’s condition on Friday, noting he’d gone to the same hospital, located about 15 minutes from Sandringham, for an examination.
“On doctor’s advice, The Duke of Edinburgh visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn this morning for a precautionary check-up,” the palace’s statement read. “This confirmed His Royal Highness had no injuries of concern. The Duke has returned to Sandringham.”
The Daily Mail interviewed a passing motorist, lawyer Roy Warne, 75, who said he and his wife came upon the wreck moments after it happened and Warne had to pull the prince from his car through the broken sunroof.
“‘He is lucky to be alive,” Warne told the Mail. “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.”
Norfolk police said both drivers were given breathalyzer tests and the readings were negative. The police investigation of the late afternoon collision will continue under “standard procedures” but declined to give further details.
It was not immediately clear which vehicle was at fault or which car hit the other.
“We are aware of the public interest in this case, however, as with any other investigation, it would be inappropriate to speculate on the causes of the collision until an investigation is carried out,” the police statement said.
Buckingham Palace was even less forthcoming about the wreck when it issued a statement late Thursday.
“The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road traffic accident with another vehicle this afternoon. The duke was not injured,” the palace statement said. “The accident took place close to the Sandringham Estate. Local police attended the scene.”
However, The Daily Mail published pictures of the scene minutes after the collision, obtained by a local news station, which showed the Land Rover on its side and the other car off the road.
“Duke of Edinburgh, 97, is ‘conscious but very shocked and shaken’ with Queen at his side after crashing his Range Rover near the Sandringham Estate and rolling it over on side of road,” the headline on its story read.
The collision occurred on a major highway, where the speed limit is up to 60 mph, at a junction with a road onto the Sandringham estate.
Philip, who was driving and may have been alone in his Land Rover, has been spotted behind the wheel of cars periodically, usually while driving on one of the royal estates, since he retired from public life in August 2017.
According to the website of the Department of Transport’s Driver and Licensing Agency, British motorists must begin renewing their license every three years once they turn 70 years old.
Since Christmas, Philip has been staying with the queen at Sandringham in Norfolk, where the royal family usually spends the winter holidays.
Although a nonagenarian and after a series of health scares over the last seven years, he is robustly hale for his years.
He attended the wedding of his grandson, Prince Harry, to the former American actress Meghan Markle, in May 2018, just weeks after undergoing successful hip-replacement surgery.
The last time he was seen in public was at the wedding of his granddaughter Princess Eugenie of York, in October.
British media reports said that after the accident, the duke was seen by a doctor at Sandringham as a precautionary measure; the doctor confirmed he was not injured.
Norfolk police said officers were called to Sandringham shortly before 3 p.m. local time after a report of a collision, according to the Associated Press. Police and ambulance crews were at the scene and two people in one of the vehicles suffered minor injuries.
Because of their advancing years, the British media and public are ever alert to reports of mishaps or health emergencies involving the duke or the queen, 92, who have been married for 71 years.
There were even concerned headlines in 2016 when the pair delayed their usual train trip to Sandringham before Christmas because both had “heavy colds,” the palace said. They took a helicopter to Norfolk, about two hours away by train from London, the next day.