Elizabeth II is afraid. In fact, the sovereign is terrified for a reason that is, at the same time, personal and institutional. At 95 years old, it is not a good time for scares, given the fragile state of health in which he is. But despite this, the British queen is enormously concerned about her eldest grandson and second in line to the throne, William of England. The helicopter flights that the eldest son of Prince Charles regularly performs have become a headache for Elizabeth and, by extension, for the entire court.
So much so that sources close to Buckingham Palace have confirmed to the British newspaper The Times that the concern is of such a caliber that it makes the sovereign lose sleep. “He spends his nights awake”, they have come to say. The conflict for Elizabeth II is great, because she does not like at all that it is her grandson who sits to lead the ships on the route that connects London with her residence in Anmer Hall, in Norfolk, a distance of just under 200 kilometers that the young man travels assiduously.
There are several problems. The first, that Guillermo is the one who takes control of the helicopter. He is an experienced pilot who in 2008 worked for the army and in 2010 he continued as a rescue pilot for the Royal British Air Force (RAF) for five years, a job he loved and, as those who know him always say, would have been his job. for life if he hadn’t had to dedicate himself to serving the Windsors. However, the queen still worries that he will be the one to drive it.
The second dilemma is that he does not travel alone, because he usually takes with him his wife, Kate Middleton and, what worries the queen the most, sometimes also his children, Jorge, Carlota and Luis. There is an unwritten rule that states that royal families should never travel together, especially parents with their children; in case there was an accident and someone died, at least one branch of the family would remain that could give continuity to the crown. Already in 2014 the prince asked his grandmother for special permission to be able to travel with Jorge, then a month-old baby, on his tour of Australia. With the birth of their next children, it seems that this permission has become more and more relaxed. Until the queen has said “enough”.
The point is that, always according to the Times, the queen would have gotten to hold a conversation with her grandson about this issue and they have discussed how to manage those flights from now on. According to sources very close to the sovereign to The Sun on Sunday —A source not as excellent as the historic newspaper, but also noteworthy—, “His Majesty has told close friends and courtiers that he wants Guillermo to stop piloting himself, especially in bad weather conditions, since helicopters do not they are the safest form of transportation. [La situación] it keeps the queen awake at night and she is, understandably, very worried. “
According to the tabloid, citing sources very close to the palace, it is not a question of trust between Isabel and her grandson. The queen “knows that Guillermo is a very capable pilot but does not believe that the risk that he poses for the five is worth it. [miembros de la familia] the fact of flying together, and does not want to imagine what could happen ”. And they warn that it could “ignite an institutional crisis.”
For the sovereign, Guillermo is the great standard of the crown in the future, and thinking about his loss, in the personal question and that of the monarchy, is unfeasible. “The Queen is enchanted by the way William and Kate have emerged victorious from all challenges in recent years and knows that the monarchy is safe in their hands. He thinks the future with them is bright after Carlos, and he can’t bear to think what would happen if something happened to him or his family. “
The point is that the queen does not speak in vain. In the summer of 2019 it was publicly known that Camilla de Cornwall, the wife of Prince Charles, had suffered two helicopter accidents of some seriousness a year earlier, on the same day, in July 2018. It was with a Sikorsky S76, of the air fleet of the queen: when it had only been flying for six minutes, the aircraft almost collided with another head-on. Later, when they landed, they had to perform an emergency maneuver in order to avoid a hang glider that was in the area.
Not only Camila has had a mishap: in 2017 Sofia of Wessex, the wife of Eduardo, the queen’s youngest son, also had a problem when the helicopter she was traveling in almost collided with a glider in mid-flight. The risk of the crash was “high”, because they were less than 500 meters away when they managed to avoid it, as it became known two years later. According to the budgets of the British royal house, the 2020 spending on helicopter trips by the Windsors was almost 2.5 million euros.
Guillermo’s hobby comes from afar, since his grandfather, Felipe de Edimburgo, was an experienced aviator and passionate about aircraft. Although that did not prevent him from mishaps: in 1981 he almost caused a catastrophe when he was about to collide with a British Airways flight that was leaving London for Miami. Plus, he’s not the only air-loving European royal. As it became known in 2017, King William of the Netherlands has piloted private jets for KLM, the Dutch-flagged airline, for more than 20 years. Officially licensed to do so, he takes up his hobby when his schedule allows it, a couple of times a month, and always flies incognito.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.