When the royals travel, they often bring intricately planned wardrobes of up to three outfits per day, and King Charles III reportedly used to travel with a tour artist to capture things that photographs cannot. But behind the scenes, plenty of forethought goes into ensuring the royals remain healthy during their tours. According to Dickie Arbiter, a former press secretary to Queen Elizabeth II, the royal planes usually fly with blood products matched to the royal’s blood type.
“[You’ve] got to make sure that you’re covering every eventuality,” he explained to Emily Nash, the host of Hello’s A Right Royal Podcast, “and the aircraft would carry blood in case there was blood transfusion. There’s never any guarantee you are going to get the right type of blood at your destination.”
Blood isn’t the only medical perk that comes along with the monarch airplane. In 2016, the Telegraph’s Gordon Rayner reported that the queen would also travel alongside a Royal Navy doctor whenever she went on a world tour, who would research information about local hospitals. “In countries where a reliable blood supply is questionable, the Queen and the Prince of Wales both travel with their own personal packs of blood following in their convoy wherever they go,” he added. “Their doctor is never more than a few paces away, carrying a bulky medical bag containing a mobile defibrillator and all manner of emergency medicine.”
Arbiter, who served the queen from 1988 to 2000, also mentioned a few more highlights from his time traveling with the royals, adding that Charles liked to join the pilots in the cockpit when he flew in the queen’s helicopter. “If we were using the Queen’s flight, invariably the Prince of Wales would pilot the aircraft. He was a qualified pilot, commercial,” Arbiter said. “He doesn’t anymore but he used to. The late Prince Philip used to as well. Prince Charles would fly the whirlwind helicopters of the Queen’s flight. Occasions I’ve been on a flight and the Prince would be upfront. The RAF crew would take off and then he would go upfront.”
Listen to Vanity Fair’s DYNASTY podcast now.