Revealed First Time: Pilot who flew Princess Diana back to Home

29730
followusoninstagram

Pilot’s memories of Princess Diana’s last flight

The RAF pilot who flew Princess Diana’s body back from France has spoken of the shock of seeing her coffin for the first time.

Squadron Leader Graham Laurie, who had flown the Princess hundreds of times on engagements since her twenties, took Prince Charles and Diana’s two sisters to France to bring her body back home.

He said in an interview, to be broadcast on BBC Three Counties Radio on Thursday at 12pm: “It was a combination of shock, of seeing the coffin, and the realisation it was for real.

“It was very powerful indeed.”

But Sq Ldr Laurie, who had then been in the RAF 33 years, said the sight also triggered happy memories of Diana and sons William and Harry.

It was a combination of shock, of seeing the coffin, and the realisation it was for real
Squadron Leader Graham Laurie

“It brought back the good moments that we’d shared,” he said: “Not only of her but the children as well, as they used to come up on to the flight deck.

Foral tributes placed in front of Kensington Palace Photo (C) EPA
Foral tributes placed in front of Kensington Palace Photo (C) EPA

“When young William was about three or four we used to let him put the undercarriage down. That was his thrill. And when the two children came up we had to start thinking, ‘No, we can’t have two young kids climbing over the cockpit!

“So we had to stop it,” laughs Graham.

Princess Diana’s coffin with the Welsh Guard Photo (C) EPA
Princess Diana’s coffin with the Welsh Guard Photo (C) EPA

“I’d flown the Princess over 200 times. I have one card that I will never let anyone else see other than my family, which was sent from her.

“It shows her mischievous sense of humour.”

Recalling the moment the plane took off with the Princess’s coffin inside, Graham says: “It really was a wonderful golden sunset and that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

Squadron Leader Graham Laurie and Princess Diana Photo (C) BBC THREE COUNTIES RADIONICK COFFER, PA
Squadron Leader Graham Laurie and Princess Diana Photo (C) BBC THREE COUNTIES RADIONICK COFFER, PA

The plane, carrying Diana’s body arrived at RAF Northolt on August 31, just hours after her death in a road crash in Paris.

Afterwards Sq Ldr Laurie went to St. James’s Palace and queued up “like everyone else” to sign her book of condolence.

Prince William and Harry bow during Diana's funeral Photo (C) PA
Prince William and Harry bow during Diana’s funeral Photo (C) PA

Meanwhile a soldier who carried Princess Diana’s coffin has recalled the day of her funeral in ITV documentary Diana: The Day Britain Cried, on Tuesday at 8pm.

Welsh Guard Corporal Philip Bartlett, one of eight pall bearers who rubbed their shoulders raw practising for the role, wanted to repay her for her devotion to the country.

“She was the Princess of Wales, she was our princess,” says the ex-soldier from Swansea, who left the Army after losing part of his leg in an explosion in Afghanistan.

Source: EXPRESS CO UK

Tags: Princess of Wales, Princess Diana, Last Flight, Dead Body, Book of Condolence, Coffin, Shoulders, Country, RAF, RAF Northolt, Hours, Road Crash in Paris, Diana Death, Princess Diana Death, Sad News, Rest of my life, Carrying Diana’s Body