Dear Prince Charles

Your mitts were on the joystick when that jet overshot the runway, it wasn't that nice Captain chappie. So chin up and take the royal rap
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Indy Lifestyle Online
I assume that you will be standing up and taking responsibility for pranging a BAe146 jet of The Queen's Flight last June. Your ropey landing in strong winds on the Isle of Islay caused an estimated pounds 1m worth of damage, gave the other 10 people on board a bit of a fright and has landed Squadron Leader Graham Laurie, captain of the plane, on the carpet.

A report published in the Commons yesterday puts the blame firmly on the epaulettes of the Squadron Leader, a good egg who had been flying with you for seven years. Laurie's flying career could well be jeopardised by the result of the inquiry into the Islay incident.

You have since grounded yourself, after 20 years of safe flying, but I am surprised that as an RAF officer yourself (Group Captain), a future king and a chap who is, despite the pasting you've received in the press, still meant to represent the ideal of the English gentleman, you have decided to keep mum and stand by while Squadron Leader Laurie's reputation takes a bruising.

As one who spends much of his life saying "I'm sorry, it was all my fault," I can recommend taking the flak square on the chin, apologising to everyone concerned and making it clear that you, the Prince of Wales and a fellow officer and pilot, are quite prepared to carry the can. This is no time to hide behind a smokescreen of royal privilege. And even if Squadron Leader Laurie was technically to blame for allowing you to land his kite, you are surely big enough to take his part.

Of course, I understand that, technically speaking, Squadron Leader Laurie, as captain of the royal crate, should have wrested the controls from you as it became clear that it was likely to overshoot the airfield.

Equally, like all of us, I can understand that he was reluctant to do so because in every other aspect of Britain's class-ridden life you outrank him. Also, your tendency to fly off the handle during a flap is well known, so we can all sympathise with Squadron Leader Laurie.

Over the past 10 or 15 years, the idea of anyone in a senior position taking responsibility for their actions has gone by the board. Lord Carrington resigned honourably over the Falklands fiasco, but few have been prepared to follow in his admittedly well-heeled footsteps. The chaps on the board of Barings take little or no blame for the Nick Leeson affair; in fact they seem to want this uppity working-class tyke to rot in a foul oriental prison.

Blame someone else (without even having to say anything), keep your head down and wait for the brouhaha to die down. No damage done in the end. Some other chap's problem.

Piece of cake, in fact.

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