Prince Andrew has been reported to the police for criminal damage to a set of electric gates at Windsor Great Park, after a story alleging that he rammed the gates appeared in the Sun newspaper yesterday.
Windsor Great Park, which adjoins Windsor Castle, is part of the Crown estate, which means the gates are actually public property, so the old, ‘They were my/my mum’s gates’ defense won’t work.
The report was made by Graham Smith, head of the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic.
The gates are used to keep deer in the park and out of the grounds of Andrew’s home, Royal Lodge.
The incident was said to have happened when the Duke was heading home to Royal Lodge on Sunday evening. Andrew is believed to have driven into the gates to nudge them open, but was unpleasantly surprised when they closed on the side of his car, scraping his expensive Range Rover.
A park worker told the Sun: “It was a crazy thing to do and we are jokingly calling it ‘ParkGate’.
“The gate stops deer roaming and the Prince uses it as a short cut.
“For some reason the sensors didn’t work. Instead of going a mile out of his way, he just decided to ram it open.
“He has a bit of a reputation for roaring around like Toad of Toad Hall."
Mr Smith told the Daily Beast today: "Thames Valley police told the Guardian they couldn't investigate the matter as it hadn't been reported. Now it has."
"I expect the police to deal with this matter just as they would if the suspect were another other person."
"I cannot believe an ordinary member of the public would not be prosecuted for deliberately damaging these gates with their car."
"This is a matter of principle: will the royals be treated the same as the rest of us or is there a different law for them?"
“The Crown Estate is an independent body that owns property in the name of the Crown so Windsor Great Park certainly isn’t the private property of the Windsor family or Prince Andrew.
“I don’t think they would hesitate to report anyone else who did something like this.”
Asked if he thought there was any chance of a full and fair investigation into the alleged crime, Mr Smith said, “I suspect they will find reasons to get around it. But if they try to get around it we will take it up with police. We can’t have a situation where there is one rule for everyone else and one rule for the royals.”
Mr Smith added that the action of ramming the gates made Andrew appear, “Arrogant and petulant," adding, "Regardless of the criminality its incredibly irresponsible and stupid behavior and speaks volumes about his character.”
A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said: "An alleged criminal damage was reported this morning but the caller had no details of the alleged incident other than it was in Windsor on Sunday.
"The caller was advised that a person involved in the alleged incident or someone acting on their behalf would need to report this.
"In terms of ‘a set of gates being rammed’ – please bear in mind that police are not usually contacted about damage-only road traffic collisions.
Mr Smith retorted: "They didn't advise me of anything. It wasn’t a 'damage-only road traffic accident', it was a deliberate act of damage."
The palace declined to comment when contacted by the Daily Beast.