Prince William has been attacked for using a UKP10 million Royal Air Force (RAF) helicopter as a “stag do taxi service”.
A number of British politicians believe it was inappropriate for William to use the Chinook aircraft to fly to Britain’s Isle of Wight to celebrate his cousin Peter Phillips’ impending wedding when the RAF’s 48-fleet is one of the most overstretched parts of the armed forces.
The prince – who was awarded his RAF wings last Friday (11.04.08) after completing a four-month training course just hours before travelling to the stag do – picked up his brother Prince Harry in London before continuing on to his final destination at a cost to taxpayers’ of over UKP5,000.
Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey told Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper: “This is serious kit with serious running costs. The public will not appreciate it being used a stag do taxi service.”
However, Britain’s Ministry of Defence has defended the prince saying the sortie had always been planned as part of his training.
A spokesman said: “The prince’s training was designed to give him insight into the many roles of the Royal Air Force.
“Having spent a week under instruction with a Chinook helicopter squadron Prince William flew a legitimate training sortie which tested his new skills to the limit.”
The flight involved negotiating the “busy London flying lanes,” before “making a water crossing and an approach to a civilian airfield”.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, refused to accept the ministry’s reasons, saying: “It is jaw-dropping that they was given approval.”
A spokesperson for William’s royal London residence Clarence House declined to comment.