Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge showing off the Royal wave and no seat belt approach. Picture: Tolga Akmen — WPA Pool/Getty Images
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge showing off the Royal wave and no seat belt approach. Picture: Tolga Akmen — WPA Pool/Getty Images

Why royals don’t wear seatbelts

There are lots of things the Windsor clan just don't do. They don't vote, voice political opinions or ever skip the chance to put money on a horse. (Okay, that last one is just a studied guess.)

There is something else we can add to that list too: wearing seat belts.

In the wake of Prince Philip's car crash, where the Duke of Edinburgh's Range Rover collided with a Kia carrying two women and a nine-month-old baby, the 97-year-old royal's refusal to belt up made international headlines.

Only 48-hours after the horror accident, the nonagenarian was spied behind the wheel, sans seat belt again.

The same day the Queen was similarly photographed, piloting her car without a seat belt in sight. (Fun fact: The Queen has a collection of luxe cars including Bentleys and Jaguars worth a cool $18.4 million.)

They are far from the only Windsors to regularly eschew this basic safety precaution. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Princess Anne and her husband Commander Tim Lawrence and Mike and Zara Tindall have all been seen travelling without a belt.

While the Queen can legally roar along any highway in her beloved Land Rover despite never having gotten her licence (thanks royal prerogative!) the rest of the royal family are generally required to abide by Old Blighty's rules and regulations. Emphasis on 'generally.' Due to the fact that most of them travel with bodyguards, this is a bit more of a grey area and they are not always required to click clack front and back.

So why do they sometimes belt up and other times don't?

Former royal protection officer Simon Morgan has revealed one particularly flimsy reason the Windsors often skip buckling up.

It ruins their outfits.

Does it still count if it’s a carriage? Picture: AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Does it still count if it’s a carriage? Picture: AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Speaking to Hello!, Morgan said that appearance would be factored into whether a royal wore a belt.

"What is significant about this event or situation? Is an individual's look and appearance important?" he told the magazine. "Protection is a very unique area of policing and there are a lot grey areas, but you are always judging each situation to weigh up the risks and threats with the outcomes you are trying to achieve."

(He also said that sometimes the royals travel belt-free for safety reasons, that is, so they could be whisked out the vehicle if there was a security threat.)

 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate and William, are serial offenders. Picture: Bradley Hunter
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate and William, are serial offenders. Picture: Bradley Hunter

 

Sure, maintaining a certain image is part of being part of The Firm but this is a pretty lame reason for skipping such a simple, but effective precautionary measure.

It is worth noting that in the tragic 1997 Paris crash that claimed the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, the only person to survive was bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones - who was the only person in the Mercedes Benz who was wearing a seat belt. It has been suggested that Diana would have survived if she too had been strapped in.

Bottom line: I reckon it is time to call bullsh*t on the notion of not strapping in simply for reasons of vanity. Sure, a nylon belt is hardly the perfect accessory for a stunning Alexander McQueen ball gown and $4 million worth of diamonds borrowed from your husband's grandma, but it's a better look than the alternative in an accident.

- Daniela Elser is a freelance writer and contributor. Continue the conversation @danielaelser