The Duke of Edinburgh has personally written to the two women injured in the car crash he was involved in on the Sandringham estate to say he is “deeply sorry.”
The 97-year-old wrote to Ellie Townsend, the driver of the Kia Carens that collided with his Land Rover as he pulled out of a sideroad, and her passenger, Emma Fairweather.
It follows mounting criticism of the way both Buckingham Palace and the police handled the fallout from the crash. The Duke was pictured back at the wheel without a seatbelt just two days later, which was deemed “insensitive and inconsiderate” to the victims.
In his letter to Ms Fairweather, the Duke admitted he had “failed to see the car coming” and blamed the bright winter sun that was low in the sky.
He wished her a “speedy recovery from a very distressing experience” and said he felt “very contrite about the consequences.”
He admitted he was left “somewhat shaken” after the accident, which resulted in him having to be pulled through the sunroof of his vehicle after it flipped onto its side, and explained that he had been advised to return to Sandringham House by a police officer shortly after the collision.
The Duke is understood to have given a written statement to police investigating the January 17 incident and officers are considering whether there is enough evidence to charge him with careless driving.
In his later, dated January 21, he wrote: “I would like you to know how very sorry I am for my part in the accident at the Babingley cross-roads.
“I have been across that crossing any number of times and I know very well the amount of traffic that uses that main road.
“It was a bright sunny day and at about three in the afternoon, the sun was low over the Wash.
“In other words, the sun was shining low over the main road. In normal conditions I would have no difficulty in seeing traffic coming from the Dersingham direction, but I can only imagine that I failed to see the car coming.”
The note, thought to have been hand delivered and seen by the Sunday Mirror, was signed “Yours sincerely, Philip.”
He also sent similarly “personal letters” to the passersby who helped pull him to safety from the wreckage.
Ms Fairweather, 46, who broke her wrist in the January 17 accident, had previously criticised the Duke for driving his replacement Land Rover on public roads so soon after the accident and complained that she had received no personal communication from him.
But she said she was “chuffed” with the letter and described it as the act of “human kindness” that she had wanted.
Ms Townsend. the 28-year-old driver of the car, is understood to have been left shaken by the experience after fearing for her nine-month-old baby son who was in the back seat.
Buckingham Palace said Philip was “fully complying with the police investigation”.
Norfolk police said: “The collision investigation is ongoing and we will not comment any further at this time.”
If found to be at fault, the Duke is likely be offered a driver awareness course, with a lesson to improve their motoring skills considered more in the public interest than a court case.