Prince William and Kate are reportedly getting a brand new helicopter from his granny, Queen Elizabeth II, on the occasion of his birthday. The royal turns 32-years-old on Saturday, and what a way to celebrate his special day.
William is a Royal Air Force (RAF) helicopter pilot, who recently left his job to focus on his duties as second in line to the British throne after his father, Prince Charles. The married father of one will use the chopper to go from engagement to engagement quickly, so he and wife Kate Middleton can get home to their son, Prince George.
The luxury Agusta A109S Grand costs approximately $13.6 million, and Prince William will be its first user. The fancy helicopter can supposedly reach speeds of 180 mph and stay in the air for up to four hours without refueling.
It is not clear whether Prince William will pilot the helicopter himself or if Duchess Kate is okay with the fancy birthday present from Her Majesty. The Queen has leased the aircraft — manufactured by AgustaWestland — and it will be available for other members of the royal family.
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The Augusta will have its home alongside the Queen’s private helicopter in Hampshire at RAF Odiham. According to a source, Prince William and Kate will be the main users:
“The word is that this new chopper will be used mostly for William and Kate, although other family members can use it too.”
“But with William and Kate stepping up their official duties in the next few years it is expected they will spend a lot of time in it.”
“At the moment the Queen has her helicopter which is used by other royals but sometimes there is also a need to hire a different aircraft.”
The Mirror reports that Prince William and Kate’s new ride is paid for by the Sovereign Grant — public grants given to the Monarchy every year. In 2014, the funds total approximately $64.5 million.
A spokesman for Queen Elizabeth stated Prince William and Kate’s new Augusta has been leased for a set number of hours, as this is the most cost efficient option. It also provides better safety and security for its very special passengers.