Princes, planes and private jets: William and Kate snapped on budget airline

Kate Middleton, Prince William, Charlotte, Louis and George Credit: PA

It's difficult to know what to make of the pictures taken of the Cambridges arriving in Aberdeen airport this morning on board a budget airline from Norwich.

An initial, but perhaps clumsy analysis, might suggest William and Kate are rubbing salt into the wounds of Harry and Meghan who chose to take four private jet flights on their holidays to Ibiza and Nice.

That conclusion would fit conveniently into the narrative about the two brothers - or two sisters-in-law - not getting on well and that a rift has developed between them.

But it also ignores the important point these pictures prove: that when high profile members of the Royal Family do travel by commercial plane, the Royals are always at risk of having their privacy invaded by camera phones in the hands of other passengers.

A smarter interpretation might be this: these images - which first found their way onto the Mail Online - support Harry and Meghan's decision to accept offers of private jets to protect the privacy they so crave when they're not on duty.

Remember, William and Kate's trip to Balmoral Castle was not a public engagement, it was a private family visit to see The Queen during her annual stay in the Scottish Highlands.

Nor were Harry and Meghan's trips public engagements - they were private holidays.

The Cambridges caught the Flybe operated flight on Thursday from Norwich, which is close to their home Anmer Hall on the Sandringham Estate.

Morning flights on the budget airline start from around £77 ($94).

They would have had a least a couple of Police Protection Officers on the flight and Kate's mum, Carole Middleton, was also spotted on the plane.

Carole Middleton was also spotted on the plane. Credit: PA

To make a straight comparison with Harry and Meghan would be wrong.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have come under intense criticism for taking private planes on holiday - which private jet charter firm Victor told us this week are up to TWENTY times more polluting per passenger mile than economy seats on commercial aircraft.

  • Clive Jackson charters private planes for the rich and powerful, he says that a private jet flight emits 20 times as much carbon dioxide as a normal one

The criticism follows Harry and Meghan's recent campaign's on climate change and environmental awareness.

But the Cambridges also had a summer vacation - they are reported to have stayed in a private villa on the Caribbean island of Mustique.

We do not know how they travelled there - nor on what type of aircraft, but given there are no pictures of them getting on or off commercial jets - a fair assessment would be that they travelled privately.

In any event, the Caribbean island is 4,000 miles from London - so however they travelled, they would have left a substantial carbon footprint.

The actress Jameela Jamil was the latest star to come to Harry and Meghan's defence on her social media feed.

Jamil, who was one of the celebrities who Meghan chose to appear in the issue of Vogue magazine which she edited, claimed it is "not safe" for members of the public to travel "on the same planes and royals or presidents".

"They are prime targets for kidnap and sometimes assassination," she wrote on Twitter.

She also waded into the race row over the media coverage of Meghan claiming that she is being "bullied" because "England and English press ... hate her because she's black".

Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan, who has been a vocal critic of Harry and Meghan retorted by calling Jamil a "pathetic virtue-signalling twerp" for accusing all 55 million English people of "hating" the Duchess for the colour of her skin.

How ugly this whole thing has become.

Other celebs including P!nk, Ellen DeGeneres and Sir Elton John have all defended the Sussex's choice of plane.

What this row shows us is that the Royals - whether they are on duty or off - are constantly under a microscope of global scrutiny.

And that might also explain why they go to such lengths to get so far away from the cameras - both the ones in the hands of the mainstream press and those which are now always in the hands of members of the public.