Prince William lobbied Cameron over rescue helicopters: Report

Last Updated: Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 20:51

London: Prince William, who is a rescue
helicopter pilot with the Royal Air Force, has lobbied Prime
Minister David Cameron against a controversial plan to
downsize the RAF`s search-and-rescue service, British media
reported on Thursday.

The second-in-line to the throne talked to Cameron
about the matter while they were in Zurich as part of
England`s 2018 World Cup bid team, the reports here said.

A decision on the sell-off of the RAF Sea Kings had
been due in the middle of December, but was unexpectedly
delayed. The government is consulting on whether it can cut
the number of coastguard stations from 18 to eight, `The
Guardian` reported.

The 28-year-old Prince`s intervention last month
appears to have had some success. In a highly unusual move,
Downing Street sources revealed to The Daily Telegraph, the
approach after the Prime Minister hinted at royal involvement
in the process.

At Prime Minister`s Questions, Cameron was pressed on
planned changes to the air-sea rescue and coastguard services.

He told the House of Commons: "I have been lobbied
extensively about air and sea rescue, including by people from
all walks of life if I can put it that way."

The Ministry of Defence and the Maritime and
Coastguard Agency provide a 24-hour military and civil
helicopter search-and-rescue service from 12 bases around the
country. The service is provided by the RAF, the Royal Navy
and a civilian helicopter service.

Under the Coalition`s plans, the service would be
privatised - with RAF, Navy and Coastguard crews replaced by
pilots employed by a private company in a multi-billion pound
deal.

Prince William is based at RAF Valley, on Anglesey,
north Wales. His daily duties include supporting mountain
rescue, the coastguard and air ambulance services.

Over Christmas, he was part of a mission in which the
helicopter he was flying was diverted to pick up a life
support machine and transport specialist staff from Leicester
to Manchester to try to help Sarah Bowden, 20, who was
suffering from swine flue while pregnant.

Despite the emergency mission, she died 11 days after
the birth of her son Harry.

A St James`s Palace spokesman refused to confirm
whether Prince William had lobbied the Prime Minister on the
future of the Search and Rescue Force, saying: "We never
comment on conversations that might or might not have happened
between the Prime Minister and members of the Royal family."

PTI



First Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 20:51

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