The Rules Around The Use Of The Royal Air Force Plane

plane charles and camilla
plane charles and camilla
(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

The news that Prince Charles got to use the coveted royal plane over PM Theresa May (who required it at the exact same time) has hit the headlines recently, with some claiming that the Prime Minister should have got priority.

Claims were made that Charles and wife Camilla ‘bumped' the Prime Minister off of the plane, so that they could use it for their royal tour of Europe - leaving Theresa to book a commercial jet for a trip to Saudi Arabia.

But a royal source has said that the plane was booked months in advance for the visit abroad, and so it wasn't even discussed as an issue.

So who really gets priority on board the RAF - officially named the Royal Air Force Voyager - plane? Is it acutally reserved for the royals first and foremost?

Yes, apparently so. According to the London Evening Standard, there's a priority list for reserving use of the plane - and unsurprisingly, the Queen is top of that list. And as the Heir to the Throne, Prince Charles is second.

The idea is that if someone is representing the Head of State, they should have priority over the current PM, so it seems to make sense that Charles had use of the jet over Theresa in this instance.

(Charles and Camilla on board the plane recently, on their royal tour)

Following on from Prince Charles, the current Prime Minister is able to commandeer the plane next, and after that, it is available to government officials on a first come first serve basis for official activities abroad.

A number 10 official told the London Evening Standard, "Ever since we first thought up the idea of the Voyager, it was always designed for use by the Queen and the Prime Minister or anyone attending international events representing the Queen or PM."

The Royal Air Force Airbus Voyager was originally a normal plane in use by the RAF. But in November 2015, it was announced that the plane would fit VIP seating so that it was fit for use by members of the royal family and government.

The refurbished jet was unveiled in July 2016, and made it's first voyage ferrying David Cameron and cabinet ministers to the NATO summit in Warsaw.

(Inside the Royal Air Force plane, © FlightGlobal)

The plane was refitted at a cost of £10 million, and now features plush beige seats which all appear to come fully equipped with a side table and comfy tartan pillows - far better than our regular old Easyjet flights...

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have not yet made a trip on board the Royal Air Force plane. Instead, the couple usually charter a jet for their trips abroad, and have been spotted disembarking from private jets on a number of occasions.

But often, they will also simply hop on board commercial planes, most recently travelling from Los Angeles on a commercial plane (albeit in first class).

Also, according to Hello! magazine US, the duo and much of the royal family prefer to fly British Airways in support of the British economy. Plus, the Duchess is surely a keen traveller on board this airline, as her parents were both flight attendants for British Airways in the past.

However, the Queen is no longer allowed to fly commercial, supposedly because of security fears.

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on