Since the British press is making this comparison, I thought I would bring it up as well. As we learned yesterday, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, took a helicopter from London to Norfolk on Sunday after her first official engagement of the year attending a service and reception to mark the 75th anniversary year of the Air Cadets, of which Kate is now Patron. On Monday, February 8, Queen Elizabeth made the trip from Norfolk to London via train after an extended holiday break. 34 year old Kate took a helicopter, while 89 year old Liz took a train.
The Queen always stays at Sandringham from just before Christmas to after February 6, Accession Day, the day she became Queen after her father, George VI, died in 1952. In recent years, the Queen has made it a habit of traveling between London and Norfolk by train. Yesterday, HM made the 1 hour 44 minute trip in a first class cordoned off carriage section of the Great Northern 1054 service which cost a whopping £54.90.
Kate, on the other hand, made the trip in a Queen’s Helicopter Flight which is estimated to have cost the taxpayer £3,000. For reference, Kate arrived at the Air Cadets event at about 11:00 AM London time and left at about 1:00 PM London time. By helicopter, the 110-mile journey would take 45 minutes; by train, the trip is 1 hour 44 minutes; and, according to Google Maps, by car the trip is about 2 hours 30 minutes. So by helicopter, train, or car, Kate could have been home by 4:00 PM at the latest (allowing Kate time to change after the event, which she did). So plenty of time to get home for dinner with the kids.
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A Kensington Palace spokesman said: “The Royal Household makes careful decisions about transport plans and always seeks to travel in the most appropriate way possible considering the arrangements for an official engagement.”
According to the rules for funding official travel, members of the Royal Family are allowed to take helicopter flights between residences, and Kate was going to an official engagement (though the helicopters can be used for any reason to travel between residences, not just official engagements).
Devil’s advocate: The Queen is almost 90, she’s getting more fragile, she may not feel as comfortable flying in helicopters, so taking the train may have been about comfort rather than cost. Kate is younger, doesn’t mind taking a helicopter, needed to get home as quickly as possible to be with the kids, most “normal” commuters would take the quickest way home possible (as long as they don’t have to foot the bill, or course). The helicopter is already leased for the year, so they might as well use it.
BUT, ponder this, if the Cambridge family were living full time in their £6 million-renovated Kensington Palace apartment, Kate would have already been in London for her London-based official engagement, meaning no need for travel at all. Meaning the press wouldn’t have brought up the cost of her trip. Meaning no one would have had anything to criticize.
By the way, Prince William‘s air ambulance job is about 1 hour 20 minutes away from Anmer Hall, and about 1 hour 40 minutes away from KP (according to Google Maps). It’s not like William is that much closer to his job by living at Anmer Hall.
Basically my whole point in bringing this up is that it still annoys me that William and Kate spent £6 million of not their money renovating a giant palace apartment and then decided not to live there. Not because I had to pay for the renovations (I didn’t since I’m not a UK citizen), but because they just don’t seem to think things through.
I know it’s their life and they wanted to live where they were most comfortable, but at the same time if they had chosen to live in their KP apartment instead of spending all that money renovating it to turn around and spend even more millions renovating a different home and then decided to live there instead of at KP, then the criticism that gets leveled at them (and rightly so) would be less. People would have criticized the KP renovations less (since they would have actually been using it full time), would not have needed to criticize the Anmer Hall renovations (or if they still got and renovated Anmer as a weekend home, the criticism would have been less), wouldn’t have needed to criticize the fact that William and Kate spent so much money on KP only to live somewhere else, and wouldn’t have needed to criticize the use of the helicopter because Kate wouldn’t have needed to commute.
Either William and Kate really don’t think things through or they did and decided living at Anmer Hall was worth the hours long commutes and all the public criticism. Or they just don’t care about the criticism and are giving the press and public the finger.
Quick update since someone asked about how the CC would count Sunday’s engagement: They only counted it as one engagement.
Update on Kate’s coat worn for the helicopter ride: Kate wore a light blue Mulberry “Paddington” wool coat from the AW15 collection.
Kate LOVES this light blue color. And I mean caps lock LOVES this light blue color. Kate has about 15 garments in this color.