It’s shocking enough to be involved in a car accident – or road traffic collision, I think we’re supposed to say now.
But, really – can you imagine how you’d feel amid the shock and panic, to realise that the tall, elderly gentleman in the vehicle that had done the colliding was none other than the Duke of Edinburgh!
What would you do? Retreat in dignified silence to arrange things with your insurance – or give interviews to TV shows and newspapers up and down the land to describe your – literal – run in with royalty.
I have to say, I was rather scathing when I heard that the lady in question was doing the media circuit. She seemed rather offended that the Duke hasn’t popped round with a bottle of champagne and two glasses, to say sorry properly.
But while many have pointed out that apologising after a road accident is just plain daft, it’s absolutely right that accidents are investigated without fear or favour.
The 97-year-old Duke was spotted two days after the accident, driving a brand new replacement Land Rover and not wearing a seat belt.
There can be no question of one law for us and another for the Royal Family.
The fact is that – regardless of blame – accidents do happen.
In this case, a nine-month-old baby was in the car and heaven forfend that anything should have happened to that child.
Call me old-fashioned but I believe that people in positions of power and privilege also have a duty to lead by example.
And, really, wearing a seatbelt. How difficult is that?
I am old enough to remember the fuss when wearing a seatbelt became compulsory but it’s now so much second nature that it would feel odd not to.
(Now is not the time to reminisce about the celebrity who advised us to ‘clunk, click, every trip’, but it was an effective message all the same!)
There have, of course, been calls for elderly drivers to be stripped of their licences – a knee-jerk reaction that helps no-one and could result in many careful drivers losing their vital independence.
Statistically speaking, older drivers have fewer accidents because they know their limits: they reduce night-time journeys, they carefully plan routes or stick to ones they know, and they follow the rules of the road meticulously.
So, buckle up, please sir, and don’t ruin things for everyone else!