London : Queen Elizabeth II has decided to treat her grandson Prince William to a £8-million helicopter as an early birthday present, reports PTI. The 2008 Augusta A109S Grand will be used to ferry William and wife Kate between official royal engagements. The Duke of Cambridge and second in line to Britain’s throne, who turns 32 tomorrow, is a qualified RAF helicopter pilot but it is not clear whether he will get behind the controls of the Augusta.
The ‘Daily Mirror’ reported that the aircraft will be leased out by the Queen, and that other members of the royal family will also be able to use the aircraft. Sources close to the royal couple told ‘Sky News’ that the helicopter, which has no previous owners, represented “better value for money”. It can stay in the air for up to four and a half hours and travel 530 miles. Prince William, who carries the title Flight Lieutenant
Wales, trained as a search and rescue pilot at RAF Valley in Anlesey, Wales, in 2009.
In 2011, he landed a Sea King chopper on water during a tour of Canada. He also flew in the Falkland Islands during a six-week deployment in 2012. The Agusta will be based alongside Her Majesty’s other private helicopter at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.