Are the royal family exempt from wearing seat belts? We couldn't help but wonder after Prince Philip, who wasn't wearing his seat belt, got into a car accident in January. And when we see photos of Prince William chauffeuring his family, and he and Kate are wearing theirs, we become even more confused. So, what's the real rule?
According to Simon Morgan, a former royal protection officer, the answer depends on the situation. There's a chance a royal family member won't be strapped in if he or she needs to make an emergency escape. "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 seat belts."
"Also, what is significant about this event or situation? Is an individual's look and appearance important? And also an individual's choice," he added: "Protection is a very unique area of policing and there are a lot gray areas, but you are always judging each situation to weigh up the risks and threats with the outcomes you are trying to achieve."
Though Queen Elizabeth cannot be arrested, that doesn't give the rest of the royal family a pass to break the law. That said, there are times when the royals are legally allowed to forgo the seat belt, including when "a person [is] involved in a procession organized by or on behalf of the Crown or which is commonly or customarily held." This would explain why Kate Middleton may not wear a seatbelt if she's riding in a car during a royal procession. The royals are also exempt from having to wear seat belts when they're riding in vintage cars that don't have any. This rule also applies to regular British citizens.
While it's up to the royals themselves whether or not to buckle up, we applaud the younger royals for setting a good example for their kids when it comes to wearing a seat belt.