Prince Philip has decided to stop driving at the age of 97, less than a month after he was involved in a collision that left two women injured, Buckingham Palace said Saturday.
The palace said in a statement that “after careful consideration,” Queen Elizabeth II’s husband “has taken the decision to voluntarily surrender his driving license.”
Philip was behind the wheel of a Land Rover near the royal family’s Sandringham estate in eastern England when he smashed into another car on Jan. 17. Philip had to be helped out of his overturned vehicle but wasn’t injured. Two women in the other car were injured, though not seriously, and a 9-month-old baby boy was unhurt.
Philip was photographed driving again two days later, without a seatbelt. Police said they offered him “suitable words of advice” after that.
The prince was not charged in the crash. Police said he and the other driver were both given breath tests for alcohol and passed.
In a letter of apology to one of the injured women, Philip said he was dazzled by the sun when he pulled onto a main road near the royal retreat, 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of London.
He told Emma Fairweather, who suffered a broken wrist in the crash, that “I can only imagine that I failed to see the car coming, and I am very contrite about the consequences.” The letter was published by a newspaper.
There is no upper age limit for licensing drivers in Britain, although drivers over 70 are required to renew their licenses every three years and tell authorities about any medical conditions that might raise safety issues.
While it is an extreme example, plenty of elderly people who are not the Duke of Edinburgh are faced with life-altering decisions when it comes to their transportation. For people who have been independent for many decades of life, the decision of when they are no longer able to drive can be very difficult. It is not just the practical side of being able to come and go, but also the mental hurdle of losing a piece of freedom and ability to control your own life. Transportation is a debate that is often swallowed up in theory, analytics, and charts, but like many things in our lives it very much affects real life, everyday people in almost immeasurable ways.
Elderly drivers is a debate with many questions, and no easy answers, but with one certainty: It is not going away. Time waits for no one, royal or not, and is undefeated.