Princess Diana Holding Newborn William in the Back of a Car Seems Shocking — Until You Find Out Why

It's hard not to love looking back on sweet pictures of Princess Diana with her sons through the years, especially the big milestones like Prince William's newborn debut. But just when you thought you'd dissected all the snaps, a new detail pops up that's hard not to investigate. That's what happened with the above photo of Princess Diana and Prince Charles leaving St. Mary's Hospital with newborn Prince William.

It all seemed sweetly similar to Prince William's own departure from the same hospital with son George in 2013, but with one major difference — when Diana and Charles left with newborn William in 1982, they didn't have a car seat. Instead, Diana held baby William in her arms while sitting in the back of the car next to Charles. And, it appears, neither Diana nor Charles were wearing seat belts.

It's hard to imagine how this wasn't cause for alarm, especially since Prince William and Kate Middleton received massive criticism for their car seat swaddling incident with Prince George. But while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have since learned from their potentially dangerous mistake, it turns out, William's parents weren't actually doing anything wrong themselves.

At the time, seat belt laws didn't even exist in the UK, and car seat laws were just starting to go into effect in the US. Even still, the majority of children didn't ride in car seats. Which means that despite how shocking it may be to see in photographs now, no laws were broken on Prince William's casual, car-seat-less ride home from the hospital in the '80s.

You may be wondering then why William's own children have also been photographed being transported without car seats long after doing so became illegal. It turns out, when Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrived at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in the back of a car without car seats or seat belts, they weren't breaking any laws either.

According to UK laws, "a child aged three or older can travel in a back seat without a child car seat and without a seat belt if the vehicle doesn't have one." At the time, Prince George was nearly 5 years old, and it had been two weeks since Princess Charlotte celebrated her third birthday, so they were both exempt from using car seats due to age. Under the same law, they should have been wearing seat belts since the semi-state limousine, a Daimler DS 420, that they rode in was equipped with them. But the young royals were still within the law due to yet another detail — they were riding on private property rather than on a public road.

So, before you're quick to question how the royals handle car seat safety, know they're most likely following all the rules — including the crazy ones that aren't even actual laws!

Getty | Anwar Hussein

Prince George was incorrectly buckled into his car seat as they left the hospital in 2013.

Getty | AFP

In 2015, Princess Charlotte was strapped in safely.

Getty | WPA Pool

Princess Charlotte arrived at the 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in the back seat of a royal limo.

Getty | WPA Pool

Princess Charlotte and Prince George traveled in the back seat without seatbelts or car seats after the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in 2018.

Getty | David Levenson

Princess Diana held baby William in the back seat of a vehicle as they left the hospital in 1982.