A mother and daughter who were distant relations of the Queen died after they were involved in a head-on car crash as they returned from a safari in South Africa, an inquest has heard.
Louise Sword, 53, and her 12-year-old daughter Tabitha, of Lurgashall, West Sussex, died after their SUV collided with a Mercedes near Zinkwazi during their holiday.
Mrs Sword was the sister-in-law of Lady Helen Windsor – the daughter of Duke and Duchess of Kent – who is 43rd in line to the throne. Louise’s brother Tim Taylor is Lady Helen’s husband.
The family were on a summer holiday and were returning to their lodge in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa after spending the day on safari.
But as they drove along the N2 highway a Hyundai H100 car driving towards them on the northbound carriageway suffered a blow out in a rear tyre and began to slow down.
A Mercedes travelling behind the Hyundai swerved ‘at the last minute’ in an attempt to avoid the car which had not activated its hazard lights or pulled over to the side of the road.
The Mercedes veered into the southbound carriageway, clipping the Hyandai as it went and then smashed head-on into the the Swords’ Toyota Fortuner SUV which was travelling in the opposite direction.
The driver of the Mercedes was killed in the horrific crash and wreckage was strewn all over the road.
An inquest into their deaths in Crawley, West Sussex heard Tabitha, who was a rear seat passenger, died after suffering catastrophic injuries in the crash at around 2.30pm on August 10 last year.
Her mother was airlifted to a hospital in Durban but died of her injuries on the journey and was pronounced dead on arrival Ethekwini Hospital.
Post-mortem examinations found both died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, the hearing was told.
Mrs Sword’s husband Alistair, 53, a financial marketeer, and son Benjamin, 11, who were also in the car, suffered serious injuries but survived.
Penelope Schofield, West Sussex coroner, said: ‘It appears they were involved in a head-on collision with a vehicle that was travelling on the wrong side of the woad which was doing so because it had to take evasive action.
‘I can only surmise that the Mercedes driver did not notice the Hyundai was slowing down and took evasive action at the last minute.’
She said: ‘We want to put on record our condolences to the family for the loss of Louise and Tabitha in the most tragic circumstances.’
The coroner concluded that both mother and daughter died as a result of a road traffic collision in South Africa.
Lady Helen was a fashion ambassador to Giorgio Armani for 17 years and also worked alongside the art dealer Karsten Schubert.
Mr Taylor is an art dealer and runs a gallery opposite the exclusive Connaught Hotel near Hyde Park, one of the most expensive areas of London.
The couple have two sons and two daughters. Columbus, 24, Cassius, 21, Eloise, 15, and Estella, 13.