The Duke of Edinburgh’s car crash, which left two people needing hospital treatment, will be “investigated and any appropriate action taken”, Norfolk Constabulary has said.
Philip, 97, walked away uninjured from the accident after the Land Rover Freelander he was driving rolled across a busy A-road following a collision with a Kia, close to the Queen’s Sandringham estate.
There was also a miraculous escape for a nine-month-old baby boy who survived unhurt in the Kia, police said.
Eyewitness Roy Warne helped the stricken duke out of his car and said the royal, who was left very shocked by the accident, asked if everybody was all right and was overheard telling police he had been “dazzled by the sun”.
Norfolk Police said two women – the 28-year-old Kia driver, who suffered cuts to her knee, and a 45-year-old passenger who broke a wrist – were treated at the local Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn that day and discharged.
The crash happened on Thursday afternoon as Philip’s Freelander pulled out of a side road onto a stretch of the A149 which was earmarked by the local authority for possible safety measures.
At a meeting, coincidentally scheduled for Friday, Norfolk Country Council approved plans to lower the speed limit from 60mph to 50mph, backed by speed cameras.
The duke appeared to be travelling without a police protection officer, individuals who guard all senior members of the royal family when at public and private events.
This may raise concerns about security but the duke was being shadowed by another vehicle, thought to contain police officers, just before his crash, Mr Warne has suggested.
Norfolk Constabulary said in a statement: “As is standard procedure with injury collisions, the incident will be investigated and any appropriate action taken.
“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.”
Theresa May has offered her support to the duke following the accident.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has sent a private message wishing him well.”
The police are expected to take statements from the duke, the female driver of the Kia involved in the crash and any other relevant witnesses during their investigation.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on whether Philip had given a statement or on his state of health.
Mr Warne, who was one of the first motorists on the scene, told The Sun newspaper he overheard Philip telling police he had been “dazzled by the sun”.
Nick Freeman, the lawyer dubbed Mr Loophole, said the duke could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention if he was deemed to have made a mistake.
But he added: “If the sun was so low and right in your eyes, sometimes it’s impossible to see, and that may well have been the case and that would afford him a defence.”
The duke, who retired from public duties in 2017 but remains active, could also avoid prosecution by surrendering his licence, according to the lawyer known for representing celebrity clients like David Beckham.
Mr Warne said he helped the duke get out of his wrecked Freelander through either the sunroof or windscreen after it had rolled all the way over before coming to rest on its side.
Asked if Philip was trapped, Mr Warne said: “Yes, he was. I asked him to move his left leg and that freed his right leg and then I helped him get out.”
He added: “He was obviously shaken, and then he went and asked if everyone else was all right.”
Mr Warne said the duke was able to stand and walk immediately after getting out of the car, but he appeared to suggest the senior royal may have been cut, possibly by broken glass.
“There was a little bit of blood and one of the royal entourage gave me a wipe to wipe my hands,” he said.
Buckingham Palace said that after the accident, the duke “saw a doctor as a precaution and the doctor confirmed he was not injured”.
Commenting on the circumstances of the crash, Mr Warne added: “I think there’s no doubt that it was hit (by the duke’s car). That’s my recollection.”
Speaking about Philip’s Freelander, he added: “I didn’t see it come from the side road, I saw it careering and tumbling across the road and ending up on the other side.”
The accident has already prompted some to question where it is now sensible for the Queen’s consort, who is in his 98th year, to think about giving up driving.
But Nick Lloyd, acting head of road safety for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “We were very distressed to hear of the incident involving our former President, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, and two other people, and we are extremely pleased and relieved to hear that everyone involved was not seriously injured.
“In the wake of the incident, we have inevitably heard calls for mandatory testing of people of a certain age. This is a red herring – age is a completely arbitrary and unreliable measure for assessing someone’s ability to drive.
“Statistically, older drivers have fewer accidents than other age groups.”
Philip may have plans to continue driving as the Queen’s transport manager, Alex Garty, was seen at Sandringham as a new Freelander was delivered to the royal residence.