Queen shock: Does the Queen need a driving license? Did she take lessons?
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The Queen is on holiday in Sandringham with Prince Philip, where she is enjoying a brief holiday after shielding from coronavirus. While there, she and her husband will take in the Norfolk countryside before returning to Windsor once more and resuming some duties. The home often sees them roam around more freely, with some independence from royal staffers outside on the estate.
Does the Queen need a driving license?
Part of their independence on the estate may see the Queen or Prince Philip driving alone or one horseback.
Any UK driver, therefore, does so on her permission, as officials issue licenses in her name.
The Queen’s position exempts her from needing to present a license to the authorities.
When not working, the Queen often drives herself, usually to leisure events such as the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
As she does, she can enter the driver’s seat without a license due to her “royal prerogative” – powers possessed by her alone.
The royal prerogative gives her immunity in common law and allows her to bypass a raft of measures required of the general public.
They make her the only person in the country able to drive without a license.
Did the Queen take driving lessons?
The royal prerogative also exempts the Queen from taking driving lessons or attaching a number plate to her state car.
But this doesn’t mean she never had any formal training, as she famously developed an aptitude for cars in her youth.
During the Second World War, she drove an ambulance for the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service as an honorary second subaltern.
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She gained on-the-job training as a driver and mechanic, capable of repairing the vehicles and changing tyres.
Her dedication to driving stuck, as photographers regularly catch her behind the wheel.
One occasion saw her love for driving attract shock from a Saudi King, however.
King Abdullah visited the Queen’s favourite Scottish residence of Balmoral in 1998, and the monarch offered him a tour around the property.
He was surprised, however, when the Queen was the one who climbed in the front beside him, according to ex-British ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles, who told the Sunday Times the move was incongruent with his country’s customs at the time.
Mr Cowper-Coles said: “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.”
This changed just a few years ago, as in September 2017, King Salman issued an order to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia.
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