The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were involved in a dramatic mid-air scare when a £40 million private jet taking them to a star-studded party was hit by lightning.
The luxury Dassault Falcon 7X aircraft was struck as it flew the couple to Amsterdam last month for the opening party of a posh members’ club.
At least 30 million volts surged through the fuselage after the bolt hit the nose cone – just inches from the plane’s vital radar navigation equipment.
After the scare on Friday, September 21, the aircraft, which costs about £20,000 to hire for a return trip to Amsterdam from the UK, landed safely at the city’s Schiphol airport.
The Royal couple then spent the evening with a host of celebrities including Eddie Redmayne, Nick Grimshaw and Jenna Coleman at the exclusive Soho House club in Amsterdam.
Sources at the airport said the jet was grounded for nine days as it underwent repairs and safety checks before being allowed to fly again.
Photographs of the grey jet, taken by a plane-spotter at Schiphol days after the strike, showed that it had been fitted with a new white nose cone.
The Mail on Sunday understands that Harry and Meghan boarded the jet at London Oxford Airport, about 12 miles from their Cotswolds home at Great Tew. Sources said it was paid for privately with no cost to the taxpayer.
The couple were the most eye-catching guests at the glitzy launch party hosted by Nick Jones, founder of the Soho House empire and husband of Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young. Insiders said the Royal couple happily mingled with stars including actor Douglas Booth and comedian Michael McIntyre, but did not join a conducted walking tour of the city’s red-light district nor a canal boat trip.
The same aircraft they arrived on had been scheduled to return to Oxford on Sunday, September 23, but Swedish corporate-jet operators Industriflyg had to fly out a replacement from Stockholm to make the journey.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex resumed their Royal duties on September 24 when they attended an awards ceremony at Loughborough University. Staff at London Oxford Airport, whose website boasts of making travellers ‘feel like you’re being treated like royalty’, claimed they were unaware of the couple flying to Amsterdam.
It is believed Harry and Meghan were driven directly to their jet to avoid being seen.
Staff at the Jet Center at Schiphol, a terminal that deals exclusively with private jet passengers, were similarly tight-lipped, and a spokesman for Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
Mail On Sunday