Prince William and Kate Middleton were scheduled to fly with their three children on the helicopter which killed Leicester City’s owner and four others a year ago today, it has been revealed.
Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, employees Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and his co-pilot partner Izabela Roza Lechowicz were all killed in the accident on October 27, 2018.
Kate Lechowicz, the sister of Eric’s fiancé Izabela, has now told how the Duke of Cambridge, 37, was excited about taking his family – including his wife, 37, and children Prince George, six, Princess Charlotte, four, and Prince Louis, one – on a trip on the doomed AgustaWestland aircraft.
‘They were scheduled to fly together again in November just a short time after the helicopter crashed,’ she said, speaking to The Sun. ‘William had told Eric, “Next time it will be with Kate and the kids.”
‘He said it will be a nice day out for him and the family.’
Prince William and Kate Middleton arrived at a tribute site near Leicester City Football Club King Power Stadium to pay tribute to those who were tragically killed in the helicopter crash at Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium on November 2018
A memorial site near the King Power Stadium, Leicester, which opened to mark the first anniversary of the tragedy
The helicopter burst into flames after crashing into a car park outside the stadium
William counted Mr Srivaddhanaprabha as a personal friend and knew him through his role as President of the Football Association as well as a fellow polo player.
‘Prince William loved flying and he got on really well with Eric – they had flown together a number of times,’ she explained, speaking ahead of travelling to a private ceremony to mark the one year anniversary.
‘He told me he loved his quirky sense of humour and had huge respect for his abilities as a pilot.’
A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found the helicopter crash, which occurred shortly after taking off from the pitch at the King Power stadium, was caused after a pin became disconnected in the tail rotor, meaning the helicopter became unstable.
William made a speech at the stadium, pictured, and praised Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, whose portrait stood alongside the Duke, for caring so ‘deeply’ about the club and community
The problem meant the tail rotor on the the Augusta AW169’s became disconnected from the pilot’s pedals, leading it into an ‘uncontrollable’ spin, the report found.
Stadium staff and emergency services ran at the scene but were not able to gain access to the helicopter because of the intensity of the fire.
One of those who tried to help but was held back by police was Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
On November 28, 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid tribute to the victims of the crash as they praised the ‘warmth and compassion’ in the city following the tragedy.
Following the tragic accident, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the King Power Stadium to pay tribute to the victims of a helicopter crash that killed five people including Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The Royals pictured with the late owner’s son Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha
The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William visited Leicester to pay tribute to the victims of the helicopter crash that killed five people. Kate laid a bouquet of flowers with a message of support for the city from the Royal couple
They spent time meeting his family as well as the club’s manager Claude Puel and players including England World Cup stars Harry Maguire and Jamie Vardy.
William also made a speech praising Mr Srivaddhanaprabha and pilot Eric Swaffer, who he previously ‘had the privilege to fly with’.
The Royals were taken to an area near the stadium containing the huge amount of floral tributes left to the victims near the stadium, where they stood in solemn silence to pay their respects. Kate then laid down a bouquet herself as the couple’s own contribution.
William and Kate then spent time talking to volunteers who helped set up the shrine to the victims, including one who revealed the Prince told him one of his last conversations with the late Leicester chairman was about arranging a game against his beloved Aston Villa.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment