Duke who organised Queen’s funeral to argue against driving ban due to planning King’s coronation

The Duke of Norfolk, who planned the Queen's funeral, will use his role in planning the King’s coronation to argue against a driving ban.

Edward Fitzalan-Howard, the 18th Duke of Norfolk, admitted to driving through a red light while on the phone with his wife after he was stopped in a BMW in south London on 7 April.

The royal initially denied the offences but at Lavender Hill magistrates court he admitted to not paying attention to the road, and instead, was on his phone in contact with his wife at the time.

Prosecutor Jonathan Bryan told magistrates the highest-ranking duke in England had already totted up nine penalty points on his driving licence from two previous speeding offences in 2019 and faces a compulsory endorsement of a further six points, which would lead to a ban.

But the Earl Marshal, 65, who is responsible for arranging the State Opening of Parliament, will argue “exceptional hardship” in a bid to keep his licence, the court heard.

The Duke of Norfolk will argue that he needs his license in order to plan King Charles III’s coronation next year.

Outlining the facts of the driving offence, prosecutor Jonathan Bryan said: “The time was just before 3.45pm, it was a Thursday. Officers were in a vehicle on Battersea Park Road when they saw a BMW.

“Officers were stationary at a traffic light, which turned green. A BMW cut across them and on that basis the officers assumed it must have gone through a red light because their light was green.

“One of the officers noticed the driver was using a mobile phone while doing this and didn't seem to be paying attention.

“The officers drove up to the BMW and saw through the window that the driver was using his mobile phone.”

The Duke’s lawyer Natasha Dardashti made an application to exclude the public and press from hearing the details of the coronation, including the date, because of the threat to national security.

“It is an extremely peculiar situation, whereby his grace, the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl Marshal, was responsible for the preparation and organisation of the funeral of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II and he is now the person in the country who is responsible for the coronation of His Royal Highness King Charles III," she said.

“In relation to the exceptional hardship argument, his grace will need to provide some detail and information about the preparation of the coronation of His Royal Highness King Charles III.

The Duke of Norfolk (far right) at the Accession Council ceremony (PA)
The Duke of Norfolk (far right) at the Accession Council ceremony (PA)

“The application for this matter to be in camera is for reasons of national security and because details of this will be provided which have not yet been discussed with His Royal Highness, and not yet discussed with the Prime Minister and not yet discussed with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

“It would be unacceptable for these details to be made public or made known to risk the escape of that information of a very sensitive nature.”

The peer had organised the Queen's funeral which took place earlier this month - an event he had spent years planning.

Two thousand people including world leaders and foreign royals gathered inside Westminster Abbey in London last Monday for the final farewell to the nation’s longest reigning monarch.

In his role as Earl Marshal, the Duke – England’s most senior peer - will now oversee preparations for the coronation of King Charles III. He described organising the Queen’s funeral as “both humbling and daunting. An honour and a great responsibility”.

The Duke of Norfolk was responbile for planning the Queen’s state funeral (AP)
The Duke of Norfolk was responbile for planning the Queen’s state funeral (AP)

The Earl Marshal is the 18th Duke of Norfolk, who inherited the position upon the death of his father in 2002. The duke is the most senior lay member of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain and a crossbench peer in the House of Lords.

The Duke’s lawyer told magistrates: “Very few people have been made aware of the date, the more sensitive the material the fewer people are yet to be involved in that.”

She added: “Organisation of a national state occasion involves considerable matters of national security, not just the public and officials in this country but world leaders attending the UK.

“In order to be able to properly advance this argument it would require his grace to go into details, and to allow the press to remain will prohibit him putting forward much of the information he needs to put.”

An Oxford-educated father of five, he is a distant relative of Elizabeth I and is also reported to be worth more than £100m.

This article was amended on 27 September 2022. It previously said that the duke was a descendant of Elizabeth I, but that is incorrect. He is a distant relative.