Prince Philips awkward apology before death showed Queen was main concern

One of the last messages the public saw from Prince Philip was an apology after a car crash in 2019, which saw a woman left with a broken wrist.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who was 97 at the time, was pulling out of a side road near the Sandringham estate in Norfolk on January 17 when he blamed glare from the sun for the incident.

Emma Fairweather, who was the injured passenger in the Kia that Philip hit along with the driver and a baby, later called the late Duke “highly insensitive and inconsiderate”, when speaking to ITV’s This Morning.

Her comments were made after Philip was spotted behind the wheel of a replacement Land Rover Freelander 48 hours after the crash.

The incident became a major story in the media and prompted Philip to write a letter, dated January 21, apologising to Ms Fairweather.

Although it was meant to be private, the victim showed the letter to the Sunday Mirror and the apology was made public.

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In the letter, Philip wrote: “I would like you to know how very sorry I am for my part in the accident at the Babingley crossroads. 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 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, and I am very contrite about the consequences.”

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He added that he was “shaken” following the incident and said he was “greatly relieved that none of you were seriously injured.”

Philip continued to say he was “deeply sorry” after hearing Ms Fairweather had suffered a broken arm and wished her a “speedy recovery from a very distressing experience.”

According to royal author Ian Lloyd, who wrote The Duke: 100 Chapters in the Life of Prince Philip, the late Duke acted on his duty in writing the letter as his concern was for the Queen and the monarchy.

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“This was a really awkward incident at the end of a long and eventful life for the Duke, “ said Mr Lloyd.

“His number one concern was always for the Queen and the monarchy and when the fallout from the crash escalated into a major news story after he was photographed driving a replacement vehicle a day or so later, he realised damage limitation was called for and wrote a letter to the passenger in the crash.

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“Many thought the letter was surprisingly friendly and contrite considering his reputation for brusqueness but he was always able to express himself well on paper – we only have to think of the letters to Diana at the time of her split with Charles. They were, by all accounts, friendly, caring and full of sound advice.”

Mr Lloyd believes the letter was a demonstration to Philip’s belief in “fairness” as the incident prompted him to recall a moment from the late Duke’s childhood when he tied with another boy during a sporting competition.

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Mr Lloyd added: “I think even at a young age he had a sense of fairness. Researching my book on him I came across a story of him at prep school coming joint first in a high jump competition. The other boy, John Wynne, pushed him forward to collect the cup but when Philip returned with it he gave it to Wynne, saying 'That's yours.'

“So after the crash he not only apologised for what he did but claimed responsibility, explained his actions in leaving the scene and admitted he was contrite. All of which helped diffuse the situation.”

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Philip passed away at the age of 99 on 9 April, leaving a legacy of helping thousands of people through his Duke of Edinburgh Award and as president and patron of the World Wildlife Fund.

He also helped unite the Royal Family and the commonwealth through hundreds of visits to around 67 Commonwealth countries, some of which had never been visited by a royal before.

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