Taxpayers to pay £4m to refurbish William and Kate’s palace

Buckingham Palace has announced it is to lease a new helicopter for members of the Royal Family to fly on official engagements.

The luxury £8 million AgustaWestland A109S can carry up to nine people including the pilots, has leather-covered seats and a top speed of 180mph.

The chopper will be used by all members of the Royal Family, including William and Kate.

While William is a qualified helicopter pilot and has flown with the RAF, it is not known whether he will try his hand at flying the helicopter.

In 2008 William got into trouble after using a £35million Chinook helicopter to fly to a stag do, stopping off in south London to pick up Harry along the way.

The stunt took place just hours after Wills received his wings, meaning he qualified to fly RAF aircraft, and was defended by the MoD as part of his training.

The new chopper will be used for a year on a trial basis to ascertain whether it is more cost effective than hiring out several different aircraft at a time.

Royal helicopter

Buckingham Palace has announced plans to lease a new £8million luxury helicopter, complete with leather interior, for members of the Royal family to use (pictured).

William and Kate helicopter

The £8million AgustaWestland can carry up to nine people and fly up to 180mph. William and Kate will use the helicopter as they step up their official engagements (pictured in Calgary, 2011).

Safety is also utmost in the palace’s mind after a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter carrying Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall was forced to make a terrifying emergency landing last year.

The Agusta, which will bear the Royal crest along with its own marking, will be based at at RAF Odiham in Hampshire alongside Her Majesty’s own helicopter.

William helicopter RAF

William is a trained helicopter pilot with the RAF but it is not known whether he will try his hand at flying the new aircraft, which will have a top speed of 180mph.

William Harry helicopter RAF

William got into trouble in 2008 after using an RAF Chinook helicopter to fly to a stag do – stopping in south London to pick up Harry along the way (file picture).

Prince Charles helicopter

The new helicopter will be stationed at RAF Odiham alongside the Queen’s own helicopter (pictured).

It will be paid for out of the Sovereign Grant – a sum of money given to the Queen by the Government each year – which this year stands at £37.9million.

The news comes after it was revealed that the cost to taxpayers of refurbishing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Kensington Palace apartment has quadrupled to £4million.

Building work on the 22-plus room home has soared by £3million in the last year and includes the bill for William and Kate’s new kitchen and several bathrooms, the Mail can reveal.

The vast project has seen Apartment 1A, which had been used as office space since the death of Princess Margaret, transformed into a ‘family home’.

Although the couple are personally paying for all fixtures and fittings like curtains, carpets and furniture, the cost of building their new bedroom and even Prince George’s nursery has come from the public purse.

One courtier last night insisted that the Kensington Palace project actually offered taxpayers ‘great value’ given the state of the crumbling apartment.

But questions will be asked as to whether Buckingham Palace, which has forked out for the refurbishment, is spending public money wisely.

The Cupola room

The Cupola room – part of the King’s State apartments at Kensington Palace. Renovations of the couple’s Palace flat have now reached £4million.

Kensington Palace

External work: More renovations are made on the building. A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess said the Palace is their ‘one and only official residence’, where they will live for ‘many years to come’.

MPs have already questioned the use of money on private accommodation after discovering that £1million had been spent in 2012/2013.

A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess said the Palace is their ‘one and only official residence’, where they will live for ‘many years to come’.

But it was last refurbished in 1963 and needed a ‘significant amount of work’ to make it habitable again.

He added: ‘The work included significant costs for the removal of asbestos, the installation of a new roof, the complete overhaul of electrics and plumbing and a significant amount of internal building work to return the residence to function as a living space.

‘To put it in perspective, there wasn’t even any running water.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2664338/Heir-Force-One-Queen-leases-luxury-8million-helicopter-fly-Wills-Kate-official-engagements.html