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AN ARISTOCRAT described his fury yesterday at giving chase to “some young yob” speeding across his country estate only to discover that the driver was Prince William.
Only the swift intervention of two royal protection officers prevented a potential “road rage” confrontation between Earl Bathurst, 76, and the Prince last Saturday.
Earl Bathurst, a former captain in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars and one-time lord-in-waiting to the Queen, was in calmer mood yesterday but said adamantly: “I don’t care who he is, royalty or not, speeding is not allowed on my estate.”
The incident happened at Cirencester Park, where both the Prince and his father had been playing polo. The earl noticed a black Volkswagen Golf “undertake” him on a track leading away from the 15,000-acre estate and began to give chase in his white Land Rover Discovery.
Speaking in the kitchen of his stone Cotswold home yesterday, the earl gave his account of what happened. “I saw a car in my rear-view mirror,” he said. “It was coming up pretty quickly behind me and then it overtook me on my left-hand side, going on the grass verge to get past me.
“I have a 20mph limit and I wanted to catch him up and give him a piece of my mind. I thought he was some young yob — I had no idea it was the Prince.
“I knew it had to be a member of the polo club because he came from that direction and not where the public or press would come from. I accelerated to 50 to 60 mph to try to catch him and I was flashing my lights and using the horn. There were clouds of dust.
“I thought he was bound to stop but not a bit of it. He just pressed on. I knew I was not going to be able to pass him on the driveway so I cut through on to an avenue through the trees to cut him off.
“I got out on to the driveway and stopped in his path so he had to pull up. But as he did so another car which also looked like it had a couple of yobs in it pulled up closer to me.
“They got out and told me it was Prince William in the car and that they were his royal protection officers. It was the first time I realised it was the Prince. I have never met him personally and he looked just like any other youngster in a car that was certainly not new or distinctive in any way.
“The two policemen didn’t look like officers of the law and I suppose I should have asked them for their identification if I’d had the presence of mind. I’m afraid I gave them both a bit of lip about the speed the Prince — and they — were doing.
“I told them it doesn’t matter who it is. The speed limit is 20mph, and I certainly expect the polo club members to know and observe that.” Lord Bathurst said that while he was talking to the officers he saw the Prince pull off in his car and drive away.
“He did not get out of the car or speak to me at all and even now I only have their word for it that it was him,” he said. “I am afraid my attitude to him was not very good, but although I regret what’s happened I do not feel sorry at all about trying to make sure that people drive at the proper speed on the estate. When the officers were about to leave I told them: ‘You must tell Prince William that he must abide by the club rules and I am very surprised at his behaviour.’”
Lord Bathurst received an apology from the Prince of Wales for the incident and was magnanimous enough to admit that Prince William had played “very well” during the match between his father’s team and the Lovelocks. The Princes lost 4-3.
The Prince of Wales has been given a full report of the incident. Observers have assured him that the two bodyguards mounted a “textbook operation” to protect his son. A Palace spokeswoman said yesterday: “No one was hurt. As far as we are concerned the matter is closed.”
The two protection officers, who have been with Prince William for some time, are deemed by the Palace to have done their job properly. A spokesman for Scotland Yard said that they would not discuss the incident.
BEN Hoyle and Andrew Pierce share the byline for this piece, titled “Angry earl finds speeding yob is Prince William.” June 2003. The Times of London. ‘Yob’ is a British slang term for a slacker youth. Lord Bathurst lost his temper when such a ‘yob’ as he called the prince, zoomed past him in Gloucestershire, far exceeding the speed limit. Lord Bathurst owns the land that William was driving through after a polo match, and he had set the speed limit at 20. Obviously William wasn’t going that speed and Lord Bathurst was extremely irritated (via thedukecambridge)