Duke of Norfolk – who planned the Queen’s funeral – admits to running a red light in his BMW in Battersea while on the phone to his wife at the wheel
An aristocrat responsible for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II has admitted chatting to his wife on the phone while driving after police officers spotted him running a red light.
His Grace The Duke of Norfolk, Edward William Fitzalan-Howard, 65, appeared at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court after being caught by the officers chatting on the phone with his wife.
In his hereditary role as Earl Marshal he told the court he is also in charge of the coronation of King Charles III and asked for part of the hearing to be held in private in the interests of ‘national security’.
The Duke pleaded guilty to one count of driving his six year-old blue three-litre diesel BMW while using a hand-held device in Battersea Park Road, south-west London on April 7.
Apparently still respecting a period of mourning His Grace wore a solemn dark grey suit, white shirt and plain black tie.
His Grace, of Arundel Castle, Arundel, Sussex already has nine penalty points on his driving licence for two speeding offence and this latest conviction would subject him to a minimum six-month ban under totting rules.
The Duke of Norfolk Edward Fitzalan-Howard (pictured above), who planned the Queen’s funeral, has admitted running a red light while talking to his wife on the phone, a court heard
This latest conviction brings six penalty points, triggering an automatic disqualification, unless His Grace can give reasons to the court why such a ban would cause him ‘unreasonable hardship’.
Prosecutor Jonathan Bryan told the court: ‘The time was just before 4.15pm in the afternoon.
‘Police officers were in a vehicle on Battersea Park Road when they saw a BMW.
‘They were stationary at traffic lights and their light turned green. and the BMW cut across them and they assumed he must have jumped a red light. and noticed the driver was using a mobile phone and not paying attention.
‘They drove up to the driver and looked through the window and saw the driver was using a mobile phone.
‘The driver was His Grace and he said he did not know he went through a red light and was in conversation with his wife and that is why he was using the phone.’
The Duke pleaded guilty to one count of driving his six year-old blue three-litre diesel BMW while using a hand-held device in Battersea Park Road while talking to wife Georgina
Initially His Grace fought the case, submitting a not guilty plea and was scheduled to stand trial today before his late change of plea.
‘He stands to be disqualified as a totter for a period of at least six months,’ added the prosecutor.
Applying for the press to be excluded from His Grace’s ‘exceptional hardship’ application his lawyer Natasha Dardashti said details of the coronation of King Charles III would have to be revealed.
‘This is an extremely peculiar submission. His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, as Earl Marshal was responsible for the preparations of the funeral of her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II and is now the person in the country responsible for the coronation of his Royal Highness King Charles III.
‘His Grace will need to provide some information and details of the coronation of his Royal Highness.
‘The reason for this to be in camera is for reasons of national security and there are details that have not yet been discussed with his Royal Highness; the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
‘The application for exceptional hardship should be in camera to prevent the escape of that information, which is of an exceptionally sensitive nature.’
It is assumed His Grace will wish to give the magistrates details of why he needs his licence to enable him to drive around the country in his role of organising the coronation.
He is the current 18th Duke of Norfolk and a member of the House of Lords and as the Duke of Norfolk is the most senior peer in the peerage of England.
He is a member of the House of Howard and inherited his title from his father Miles Francis Stapleton Fitzalan-Howard, the 17th Duke of Norfolk.
He was educated at Ampleforth private boarding school and Lincoln College, Oxford and is married to Georgina Susan Gore and is the father of three sons and two daughters.
The hearing continues.
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