An eyewitness who took a photograph of the scene of Prince Philip’s car accident moments after it happened has called it “a miracle” that the ageing royal survived.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who turns 98 in June, was left “very shocked and shaken” after rolling his Land Rover in the crash near the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
He reportedly had to climb out of the wreckage of the vehicle which had flipped over, trapping the driver’s door shut.
Buckingham Palace released the news on Friday morning (Thursday afternoon local time), confirming Prince Philip was driving and was not injured.
“The duke looked distraught,” the witness told The Telegraph, which reported the Land Rover had “heavy scrapes and dents” but was likely to have been a reinforced vehicle made for the royal family.
“The fact anybody walked away from that is incredible. If a 30-year-old had walked away from that unhurt it would be a miracle. For a 97-year-old man, that is something else.”
Norfolk Police said officers were called to the accident about 3pm involving the Land Rover and a Kia near the estate where the Queen and Philip have been staying since before Christmas.
The duke, reportedly travelling with a close protection officer, was driving and was pulling out of a driveway onto the A149 motorway when the accident occurred.
Police said it was “force policy to breath test drivers involved in collisions” and that both drivers provided “negative readings.”
Witnesses were quoted by the BBC as saying the duke’s car overturned in the collision.
The witnesses said they helped Prince Philip climb from the vehicle, whose driver’s side door was trapped.
Prince Philip, who underwent a successful hip replacement operation last year, was examined by a doctor “as a precaution”, a Buckingham Palace aide said.
“The doctor confirmed he was not injured.”
Prince Philip is now resting at Sandringham with the Queen, his wife of 71 years.
News of the accident prompted discussion in Britain about whether the duke, who regularly drives a carriage and chauffeured former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle during a 2016 Windsor Castle visit, should still hold a licence.
UK law requires those over 70 to reapply every three years.
“Some years ago he gave up flying planes long before he needed to because he was scared that if something happened there would be a lot of criticism,” royals biographer Hugo Vickers told the BBC.
“So he does listen to these things – he’s very, very sensible. If he thought that he’d lost concentration or something or he hadn’t seen somebody he would realise he’s not up to it anymore.”
The two occupants of the other vehicle involved in the crash were treated for minor injuries, according to Norfolk Police.
John Sentamu, the Anglican Archbishop of York, was moved to post a prayer for the duke on Twitter.
Almighty God, the Fountain of all Goodness,We humbly beseech thee to bless Philip Duke of Edinburgh:Endue him with thy Holy Spirit; enrich him with thy Heavenly Grace; prosper him with all happiness; and bring him to thine everlasting kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
— John Sentamu (@JohnSentamu) January 17, 2019
Prince Philip, who retired from public life in 2017, did not join the royal family for their Christmas Day church service.
He has only occasionally been seen alongside the Queen stepping away from public duties.
Buckingham Palace calculated he had completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952.
The duke, known for his fitness and active life, counted polo and sailing among his hobbies and continued competing in horse-carriage driving competitions well into his 80s after giving up polo when he turned 50.
In 2017, he joked how the rough and tumble of carriage driving left his “Balmoral dog cart” smashed up regularly.
The Queen and Philip have four children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.