Princess Diana: Dickie Arbiter recalls 'rotten' flight experience
Travel was a major part of Diana, Princess of Wales’ role during her life. Not only when she was representing the Royal Family on global tours and at public engagements but even after her divorce from Prince Charles, when she became heavily involved with numerous charities.
According to Channel 5 documentary Secrets of the Royal Flight, the Princess “joined the Royal Family” at a time when aviation was “in its heyday”.
This is perhaps why she became so friendly with so many of the flight crew operating the royal plane.
This was thanks to her joyful “sense of humour”, as well as her ability to add a touch of “glamour” to every journey.
The documentary explains: “From the engineers up to the pilots the Princess of Wales was hugely popular with the team behind the Queen’s flight.
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“Joining the Royal Family when aviation was in its heydey she quickly became one of the Royal flight’s most frequent fliers, adding some much-needed glamour on every royal journey she took.”
Meanwhile, a former navigator of the royal plane, Bob Shields, said her sense of humour was also something much-loved among the flight crew.
An example of this was when the royal plane ran into a spot of bother when travelling in Brazil.
“On one particular overseas tour we were flying with the Princess of Wales and we were in Brazil to visit an aircraft called Cataratas,” explained Mr Shields.
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“We had left Rio in bright sunshine, beautiful weather, and according to the weather office there, it was going to be like that all day.
“So, I had sent back one of my blue cards and I had written it was going to be a fine sunny day.
“Unfortunately, on the way back from Cataratas the weather started to change and change very rapidly.”
After the flight, when presented with a special blue card which dictated the anticipated weather amongst other details, the Princess wrote a funny note which Mr Shields holds dear to him.
“This is the actual card that I completed the day after we had the bad weather, and her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, she sent it back to me with a little comment that you can see right down at the bottom there,” he said.
“She had just written B__S which was indicative of her royal highness and her sense of humour.”
Princess Diana was also known to go against the grain when it came to protocols for royal tours.
In 1983, when she and Prince Charles went on a tour of Australia, she did something that has been described as “really different” to other royals.
The “peoples princess” decided to take their new son Prince William along with them.
According to royal protocol, two heirs can’t travel together in order to preserve the line of succession.
Charles is second-in-line to the throne and as Charles’ son, William is third-in-line to the throne.
However, Diana reportedly refused to leave the baby prince behind and sought Queen Elizabeth’s permission to take him along with them.
Jane Connors, author of Royal Visits to Australia, said: “Bringing William was what made it really different.
“There was a huge amount made of Diana being a breath of fresh air and [so] modern. It was enormous.”
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