kate middleton not wearing seatbelt

This is why the royal family rarely wear seatbelts, as explained by their former bodyguard

So that's why…

Ainhoa Barcelona

A lot has been made of Prince Philip and his decision not to wear a seatbelt while driving. The Duke of Edinburgh was pictured in his Land Rover Freelander last week, just two days after his horrific car crash, sitting behind the wheel but not buckled in. While the photos caused controversy, there may be a very good reason why the royals don't wear seatbelts.

HELLO! spoke to former royal protection officer Simon Morgan, of Trojan Consultancy, who explained that such decisions were always made on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes royals aren't strapped in for their own safety, for example if they might need to make a quick escape in an emergency.

A quick entry or exit to a vehicle is easier when people don't wear seatbelts

"There are always anomalies," Simon explained. "In the threat and risk matrix it's a matter of looking at each individual situation to decide what is the best way of achieving what needs to be achieved. For example, considering that a quick entry or exit to a vehicle is easier when people aren't strapped into seatbelts."

MORE: Why the Queen doesn't need a driving license

Simon went on to say that sometimes a royal's appearance needs to be taken into account, or their personal preference. "Also, what is significant about this event or situation? Is an individual's look and appearance important? And also an individual's choice," he said, adding: "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."

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After Prince Philip was pictured without his seatbelt on last week, many questioned whether the royals are exempt from the law. The Queen and her family are not given a free pass, but there are times when they are not legally required to wear a seatbelt. These include when "a person [is] involved in a procession organised by or on behalf of the Crown or which is commonly or customarily held". Citizens, including the royals, are also exempt if their vehicle does not have seat belts in the first place; this would be the case of classic cars, of which the royal family have various.

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