Mid-air drama for Prince Charles and Camilla as they travel to Hay Festival

Charming onlookers with their warm smiles and genial conversation, Prince Charles and Camilla gave no outward sign that just a few hours earlier they had been caught up in a mid-air drama.

The royal couple arrived more than two hours late for the opening day of the Hay Literary Festival in Powys after a technical fault forced their helicopter to land just after take-off.


Just minutes after leaving central London, an in-flight emergency meant the helicopter had to land at Denham aerodrome in Buckinghamshire.

"The pilot carried out a controlled emergency landing after diverting to the airport," a spokesman for Charles and Camilla said.

The royal couple then continued on their joinery to Hay-on-Wye by road.

They made no reference to the turbulent journey upon their arrival, however, and were happy and relaxed as they greeted crowds, who had gathered at the clock tower.

It meant their planned leisurely tour of the town had to undertaken more quickly, but the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall remained unflustered as they visited the open-air food market, Hay Castle and some of the second-hand bookshops for which the town is famous.

They then travelled by car to the 26th Festival of Literature, where they paid a visit to the main bookshop which is hosting the launch of a new campaign by the charity Reading Agency.

It has linked up with the festival to produce a special Summer Reading Challenge, which aims to reach 750,000 four to 11-year-olds and inspire them to read sox books during the long summer break.

After the festival, the couple parted ways and the Prince went on to Cardiff to attend the Welsh National Opera's opening new production of Wagner's Lohengrin.

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