As we heard late last week, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made the choice to fly to Scotland with their children. They chose to fly on a budget airline, Flybe. The Daily Mail scooped up the exclusive photos and video of the Cambridges walking off their flight in Aberdeen. We knew it was a complete set-up at the time. We knew that Prince William and the Kensington Palace communications office had set up the whole tarmac walk as a photoshoot, and we knew why – this was Work-shy Will putting his back into something, and that something was being an a–hole to his brother and sister-in-law. The Sussexes’ private plane rides had been in the headlines for more than a week when the Cambridges pulled their sh-tty budget-flight photoshoot – and the KP comm office even provided unnamed-source quotes praising the Cambridges’ frugality, recent though it may be. It was like William couldn’t help but leave his fingerprints all over the crime scene.
Well, if looks like the whole story is even funnier, stupider and more amazing than all of that. The crux of the plane issue – when it came to the Sussexes – was the ENVIRONMENT. As in, how could Harry speak about environmental anything when he and his *sniff* American wife fly on private planes. The carbon footprint! The fuel! The hypocrisy! So it’s especially funny that when William attempted to show off his family’s frugality and environmentalism, he totally played himself.
Two empty jets were flown on behalf of Flybe some 500 miles as part of taking the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children to Aberdeen on Thursday, The Scotsman has learned. The revelation comes days after William and Kate were praised for using an economy flight from Norwich when Prince Harry and Meghan have been criticised for a series of private jet trips. It is understood the empty flights made by the two 49-seat aircraft cost around four tonnes of carbon.
An aviation source with knowledge of what happened said the plane which normally flies the route had been replaced by a Flybe-branded aircraft in an attempt to maximise press coverage for the company. Eastern Airways, which operates the route for Flybe, confirmed to The Scotsman it swapped a Loganair plane normally used for the flight for another of the same type of jet with Flybe markings. Eastern said this was so it would be “wholly compliant and in control of the operation”. The substitution involved an empty Embraer 45 jet being flown some 100 miles from Humberside airport to Norwich to pick up the Royal party and regular passengers.
Loganair’s own Embraer plane then also flew empty some 400 miles from Norwich to Aberdeen so it could operate the next flight back to Norwich. The source said: “An Eastern Airways jet was flown empty from Humberside to Norwich and then flew the scheduled flight to Aberdeen with the Royals on board. The Loganair aircraft which normally flies this route for Flybe and Eastern flew from Aberdeen to Norwich as usual but then flew empty from Norwich to Aberdeen. I guess it was to ensure if they had any Press coverage of the Royal travel, an aircraft with a Flybe logo flew them. Heck of a carbon footprint to achieve it – not exactly environmentally conscious.”
Eastern Airways said it had chosen to switch the aircraft after being told the Royal party had booked onto the flight. General manager (commercial and operations) Roger Hage said: “Following a call and details provided late evening on Wednesday as to members of the Royal Family having been booked onto the service, and that armed Royal Protection Officers would accompany the family on-board, we elected, given this service is operated for Flybe by Eastern, to provide our own aircraft and crew, given the approvals and clearance required to accommodate such. This then assured ourselves on our own Air Operators Certificate that we would be wholly compliant and in control of the operation in accordance with associated regulation. Hence we positioned an aircraft on a short 25-minute leg to facilitate the above.”
Despite what some reporters claimed about the Cambridges’ trip being booked “months in advance,” William really called up the budget airline Flybe and asked for budget tickets last minute, and he and his staff made sure that Flybe knew that he, his family and his protection officers would all be on board. This was a wink-and-nudge for Flybe to provide special service, which they did. Of course William knew that it was a special service. I say this because “sources” are strenuously denying any knowledge:
According to their fellow travellers, the Cambridges slipped on to the plane discreetly shortly before take-off, and sat in the front few rows, exiting first in the hope they would not be recognised. The Loganair aircraft which should have taken them to Scotland, and had brought an earlier load of passengers from Aberdeen to Norwich as part of its regular shuttle service, took off from Norfolk empty around 45 minutes later, according to official flight records.
The source said: ‘It’s utterly extraordinary and makes a mockery of their family’s very laudable attempts to travel more economically and in a more environmentally friendly manner. An additional 4.5 tons of carbon emissions were created simply to ensure that an aircraft with Flybe written on the side operated the flight with the Royal party aboard, instead of the usual aircraft which flies the route. It’s obviously not their fault but is utterly ridiculous.’
William and Kate were completely unaware of the switch and had not asked for special treatment, aside from slipping in at the last minute. A Kensington Palace spokesman declined to comment but it is likely the couple will be mortified.
“It’s obviously not their fault but is utterly ridiculous.” Is their blamelessness actually obvious at all? I don’t think it is. You know what would not surprise me at all? If this was all supposed to be some kind of undercover advertising for Flybe anyway, like the royal family’s undercover sponsorship with Land Rover. William probably offered Flybe free publicity – in exchange for what? – and of course Flybe jumped at the chance to be featured within a story of William’s petty clownery. Oh, well, Work-Shy Will. You actually tried to do a thing and it came back to bite you on the royal arse. Well played, karma.
Photos courtesy of WENN, Avalon Red and Backgrid.