Friday, 21 Jun 2024

Kate and William’s ‘hair-raising moment’ on royal plane

Kate Middleton and Prince William plane suffers turbulence

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Prince William and his wife Kate, Princess of Wales, undertook a five-day tour of Pakistan in October 2019. At the time, the couple’s Communications Secretary said it was “the most complex tour undertaken by the Duke and Duchess [of Cambridge] to date, given the logistical and security considerations”. The visit to the South Asian country saw the couple cover “over 1000km” and “take in Pakistan’s rich culture, its diverse communities and its beautiful landscapes”.

However, during the tour, the Prince and Princess of Wales faced a “close call” when their flight from Lahore to Islamabad entered a “hair-raising” storm.

Emily Nash, royal editor at Hello! Magazine, was not on that particular trip but referenced the “dramatic” flight on the most recent episode of the publication’s A Right Royal Podcast.

She said: “[During] the “then-Cambridges’ tour of Pakistan, there was a bit of a close call with landing the plane. In fact, they had to overnight in Lahore rather than return to Islamabad, it was very dramatic.”

Ms Nash went on to speak to Chris Jackson, a Getty photographer who often goes on royal tours with members of the Firm; he was on the flight that “plunged into the storm” in desperate attempts to land.

Mr Jackson recalled: “We had a particularly hair-raising moment on a flight in Pakistan. A huge storm came in at the last moment. We were trying to land in Lahore and we were obviously on a schedule.”

He continued: “The royals had engagements the next day and so it was quite important they could land back in Islamabad for the evening engagements. All commercial flights had been diverted.

“It was literally like being in a washing machine — every time we plunged down into the storm — that’s the only way to describe it.”

Strikes of lightning could be seen from the carrier plane near the right wing as it shook with heavy turbulence.

Emma Louise Bowden, a Press Association reporter on the plane, tweeted a video clip. “Those big flashes are the RAF Voyager, carrying William, Kate and travelling media, going through lighting — two aborted landings at Islamabad due to the storm and we’re back in Lahore,” the caption read.

Kate and William were forced to spend a secret, unplanned night in Lahore after their plane had to turn back as a result of the thunderstorm.

As The Daily Express’ royal correspondent, Richard Palmer, wrote at the time: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are back in Lahore. We set off for Islamabad, circled the capital for an hour, but couldn’t land in heavy thunderstorms.”

Attempted landings were made at Rawalpindi airbase and Islamabad international before the flight returned to Lahore.

The Prince and Princess checked into the four-star Pearl Continental Hotel last night in the bustling Punjabi city along with a 15-strong entourage: a large team of Scotland Yard detectives; the crew of their RAF Voyager aircraft and the journalists and photographers covering the royal tour.

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Mr Jackson said: “Even some of the most hardened world travellers were looking very nervous.”

William, however, was said to have taken the experience “in his stride”. The former air ambulance pilot referenced his own time in the cockpit, joking: “I was flying!”

Royal correspondent for the Daily Mail, Rebecca English, took to Twitter to say: “Fortunately William has taken it in his stride – he just came back down the plane to see if we were ok and joked that he was flying!”

While ITV News’ Royal Editor, Chris Ship, tweeted: “Prince William (a pilot) just joked that he was fine. Even if the rest of the plane and royal press corps were looking a little shaken.”

The change in plans meant the royal schedule had to be rejigged. Their arrangements to fly by helicopter to the Khyber Pass, where they were due to meet soldiers from the Khyber Rifles guarding the border with Afghanistan, were cancelled.

Instead, the RAF Voyager landed in Islamabad after midday — some 18 hours after it was originally scheduled to arrive.

Kate and William still embarked on their other scheduled engagement of the day — a visit to an army canine centre.

When speaking with reporters, the Princess touched on their close call. According to reports at the time, she said: “It was pretty bumpy up there. We were looked after so wonderfully by the RAF who did a great job liaising with everyone and got us home safely.”

The royal went on to say she was “hugely grateful” for the aircraft’s staff.

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