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The Queen is reportedly nervous about helicopters—and for good reason. Prince William, who is himself a trained helicopter (opens in new tab) pilot and served in the RAF, has flown with Kate Middleton and their three children from Kensington Palace to their home in Norfolk in the past, and has even been known to take the controls when they’re in the air. But while he’s no stranger to the machines, a source close to the Queen, according to the Sun, has reported that the monarch has urged William to pick a different mode of transportation with the family.
Per the source, the Queen is “terrified” that an accident will occur, and has had “several conversations” with Prince William about stopping the flights. It comes after a probe was launched into two incidents on the Queen’s helicopter, involving a fault in September that grounded the chopper and another cancelled flight that month due to inclement weather. The source told the publication, “Her Majesty has told close friends and courtiers that she would like William to stop flying himself, particularly in bad weather, as helicopters are not the safest form of transport.” They added, “It keeps the Queen awake at night and she is understandably very worried.”
It isn’t that she doesn’t trust Prince William’s flying ability—the source continued, “She knows William is a capable pilot”—but that so many things can go wrong. “[She] does not think it is worth the risk for all five of them to carry on flying together and can’t imagine what would happen. It would spark a constitutional crisis.”
There are usually royal protocols involved around family travel. In particular, a rule that states that those in the line of succession are not allowed to fly on the same plane (or helicopter), in case the worst should happen. That would theoretically mean that William, who is second in line for the throne after his father Charles, shouldn’t travel with Prince George, who is after him in line. However, the Queen gave her permission to relax these protocols for William’s young children. It seems, however, that she didn’t intend to relax them quite this much. "She thinks the future is bright with them at the helm after Charles but if something happened to him and the family it doesn’t bear thinking about.”
There have been other close calls involving members of the royal family and helicopters in recent years as well. In 2019, Sophie Countess of Wessex was nearly involved in a helicopter accident when her pilot almost collided with a glider. Camilla, too, was almost in two separate helicopter collisions in 2018.
Let’s hope that Prince William listens to his grandmother on this one.
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