Princess's car 'stolen after keys left in'

Police were today investigating reports that Princess Beatrice's BMW car was stolen after she left it unlocked with the keys in the ignition.

The incident happened while the 20-year-old princess, who has a police protection officer, was in central London yesterday morning.

Princess Beatrice reportedly received the £17,000 black 1 Series BMW as a gift from her father the Duke of York, on her 17th birthday, had a personalised number plate, and frequently drove the car herself.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Westminster Police are investigating an allegation of theft of a motor vehicle.

"It was stolen from a street in the West 1 area on the afternoon of January 7.

"It has not been recovered at this time."

He could not confirm reports that the car was left unlocked with its keys in the ignition, and added that no-one had been arrested and inquiries were continuing.

A spokeswoman for Princess Beatrice's mother, the Duchess of York, referred calls to Buckingham Palace, who said it was a police matter and declined to comment.