Why the Queen doesn't need a driver's license to drive

royals 25/01/2019

If you missed the news, 98-year-old Prince Philip was involved in a car accident last week, and then made headlines two days later when he was pictured in the driver's seat again, this time not wearing a seatbelt. He was given advice from the Police force following the incident.

At age 92, Prince Philip's wife, Queen Elizabeth, is still comfortable behind the wheel and insists on driving herself around. She regularly drives to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show (as pictured).

As part of the "royal prerogative" - powers and rights that the sovereign alone possesses - Her Majesty the Queen is the only person in the UK who is allowed to drive without a license, even though driver's licenses are issued in her name.

The Queen has never needed to take a driving test and is allowed to drive without a number plate on her state car, among her many priveleges of being a royal.

Despite this, Queen Elizabeth has more motoring knowledge than most. She joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service as an honorary second subaltern during the Second World War, where she trained as a driver and a mechanic. The then-Princess Elizabeth, 18, learned how to change a wheel, rebuild engines and drive ambulances and trucks. She earned a reputation for not being afraid to get her hands dirty, and was promoted after only five months to honorary junior commander in 1945.

In 1998, the Queen famously shocked King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who was then a Prince, when she insisted on driving herself around the royal Balmoral estate in Scotland. Former British Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles recounted the meeting, saying: "As instructed, the crown prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen."

"His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the crown prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead."

Protocol dictates that the Queen is usually chauffered to engagements, but when she's not in the public view she likes to reclaim her position in the driver's seat. She is said to have helped her children to learn to drive, particularly in the rural grounds of Balmoral. She uses Land Rovers, Range Rovers, Bentleys and Jaguars, with her entire car collection worth more than £10 million.