British Prince William wastes taxpayers’ money on military helicopters

Prince William

This video is about Prince William in the British Royal Air Force.

From British daily The Guardian:

The cost of William’s lift to the stag do? £8,716

Audrey Gillan and Rob Evans

Monday June 30, 2008

It must count as one of the most expensive stag-do taxis in history. Prince William‘s Chinook flight to attend his cousin’s pre-wedding celebrations on the Isle of Wight cost the taxpayer £8,716, the Ministry of Defence has disclosed.

The prince’s use of the twin-rotored helicopter became the focus of RAF ire after it emerged that he had dropped in at a wedding in Hexham, flown over his relatives’ homes and landed in his girlfriend’s parents’ garden.

Now the MoD has disclosed that five flights which have been the focus of the criticism cost the taxpayer more than £50,000. The ministry has revealed the price of each flight after a freedom of information request from the Guardian.

The RAF and royal aides initially sought to justify them as legitimate training flights, but later admitted that they were a “naive” public relations disaster and a “collective error of judgment”.

The first sortie took place on April 2 when Prince William flew the helicopter over his father‘s country home in Highgrove, Gloucestershire. The flight, which lasted nearly three hours, cost the taxpayer £ 11,985, according to the MoD.

The following day, the prince once again got behind the controls of the helicopter and this time headed off to Bucklebury, Reading. The MoD says he landed the helicopter on “private land” during what it described as a “general handling” training flight. That private land belonged to the parents of his girlfriend, Kate Middleton. The second in line to the throne is understood to have circled around the house at 300ft before touching down next to the house while Middleton and her parents watched.

At the time, the MOD defended the decision to land in the Middletons’ field, saying: “Battlefield helicopter crews routinely practise landing in fields and confined spaces away from their airfields as a vital part of their training for operations. These highly-honed skills are used daily in conflict zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan“.

But others criticised it as a frivolous waste of money at a time when the armed forces’ budget is stretched and questioned why a relative novice was allowed to fly a Chinook.

The MoD calculated the cost of the flight to be £ 8,716.

The next controversial flight took place a day later when he flew to Hexham in Northumberland. Conveniently, this was where he was a guest at a wedding. The four-hour flight – described by the MoD as “general handling and low level” training – cost £18,522.

His flight over the Queen’s Sandringham home on April 9 cost £ 4,358. His trip to the Isle of Wight on April 11 to attend the pre-wedding celebrations of his cousin, Peter Phillips, after stopping off in London to collect Prince Harry also cost £8,716, for the two hours he was on board the Chinook.

Prince William, an officer in the Household Cavalry Regiment, was on a four-month attachment with the RAF as part of a “familiarisation” exercise to understand all the military services as he will head the armed forces on becoming king. He spent 10 days learning how to fly a Chinook and was awarded his wings by his father in a ceremony at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire.

However wasteful of taxpayers’ money and of fuel all this is: contrary to flights in Iraq and Afghanistan, in this case there was no bloody waste of human lives.

British armed forces survey reveals morale crisis: here.

9 thoughts on “British Prince William wastes taxpayers’ money on military helicopters

  1. Ok so it might look a bit outrageous on the surface of it but he is being trained as an officer in our armed forces.

    It is immensely good training for a future King. The need for concentration whilst flying a complicated helicopter, learning the skills of leadership and making mistakes of this kind will put him in good stead for the future.

    However, in his defence, presumably the staff training him had allocated the aircraft to him for a certain number of flying hours and he had to do that number of hours as soon as weather and time allowed. He is restricted as to where and what he can do in Britain in peace, so what young man of his age would not have tried to ‘arrange things’. No doubt someone else is doing extra duties for not spotting the ‘error’ if indeed there was one.

    It was never acceptable for a Staff Car to alter its planned route to stop off to buy a packet of fags for the General, but it was quite a different matter if a driver is being trained and has been allocated 100 miles of driving practise. At the agreed NAFFI break, half way round, the learner driver practises parking on a planned route conveniently by the NAFFI. It is a matter of degree as to how you can arrange things but as future King it is inevitably going to be on a grander scale.

    The money is not the issue here as it would have been spent flying somewhere else for practise.


  2. Dear Robert, usually, if someone has driving lessons; or military helicopter lessons; then, the instructor tells the trainee where to drive, or where to fly. In this case, apparently, the trainee, Prince William, made the decisions where to fly. Somewhat unusual, isn’t it?

    You write about the Air Force: “No doubt someone else is doing extra duties” for the Prince William case. Probably, if this would have happened with another trainee helicopter poliot, then that trainee pilot *himself* would now be “doing extra duties”.


  3. The senior officer would probably get it. But the flight plan would have been part of the training too. No doubt he was told to choose somewhere to go and so did just that, but I speculate. The point is though, he has to get the flying time in, so what the hell does it matter where he flies? Fighter pilots were notorious at victory rolls and fancy flying to impress their peers and girlfriends in the First and Second wars and usually got ‘hauled up for it’! In this case I see no misdemeanour from this distance other than giving the press an opportunity to attempt a sensational story out of it.


  4. Hi Robert, quoting from the article in the Guardian: “The ministry has revealed the price of each flight after a freedom of information request from the Guardian.

    The RAF and royal aides initially sought to justify them as legitimate training flights, but later admitted that they were a “naive” public relations disaster and a “collective error of judgment”. I do not think anyone has to be more royalist than the Royal Air Force.

    By the way, off topic, you, judging from your own blog, might be interested on the posts about sculpture and other art on this blog. See here; and use the “search” option with “sculpture”.


  5. Thanks; if that is so then someone would have lost their name! As ex-Household Cavalry on your second point I beg to differ! He still had to get his flying hours in and that was my point. Thank you for your links to sculpture, I have a quite a trip round your very interesting site. Perhaps next year you could come and do a little ‘thing’ on the Armed Forces Arts Society exhibition which is on until Sunday this week at the Mall Galleries, near Admiralty Arch. I won the sculpture prize with my Flying Spaniel, but there are an enormous amount of paintings and sculpture by serving and retired service men and women of all ranks of a very high standard.


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