News, Culture & Society

Prince William and Kate visit Leicester to mourn helicopter crash

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting Leicester today to pay tribute to the victims of the devastating helicopter crash that killed five people including the owner of the city’s football club.

Prince William and wife Kate said they wanted to recognise the ‘warmth and compassion’ the people of Leicester have shown since the accident last month.

Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, 60, was killed when the aircraft plunged to the ground shortly after taking off from the pitch at the King Power stadium.

Pilots Eric Swaffer and partner Izabela Roza Lechowicz also died alongside Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s employees Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s son Aiyawatt, vice chairman of the club, greeted the royals with his mother Aimon and sister Voramas. They then met a receiving line of Leicester players including England striker Jamie Vardy and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who witnessed the crash and had to be ‘held back’ from running towards the flames to try to help. 

The Royals were taken to the area containing the huge amount of floral tributes left to the victims outside the stadium, where they stood in solemn silence to pay their respects. Kate then laid down a bouquet herself as the couple’s own contribution. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stood in solemn silence as they paid their respects in front of the huge amount of floral tributes left to the Leicester helicopter crash victims

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting the King Power Stadium today to pay tribute to the victims of a helicopter crash that killed five people including Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The Royals are pictured with the late owner's son Aiyawatt 'Top' Srivaddhanaprabh

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting the King Power Stadium today to pay tribute to the victims of a helicopter crash that killed five people including Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The Royals are pictured with the late owner’s son Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha

The Duke and Duchess were also greeted with a receiving line of Leicester's players, including Jamie Vardy, pictured shaking Kate's hand, and manager Claude Puel

The Duke and Duchess were also greeted with a receiving line of Leicester’s players, including Jamie Vardy, pictured shaking Kate’s hand, and manager Claude Puel

Vice chairman Aiyawatt, left, waited to greet the royals with his mother Aimon, centre, and sister Voramas, right

Vice chairman Aiyawatt, left, waited to greet the royals with his mother Aimon, centre, and sister Voramas, right

Mrs Srivaddhanaprabha was visibly emotional at the stadium today and wiped tears from her eyes shortly before the Royals arrived, pictured

Mrs Srivaddhanaprabha was visibly emotional at the stadium today and wiped tears from her eyes shortly before the Royals arrived, pictured

Kate laid her own bouquet of flowers in tribute to the victims

William and Kate bowed their heads in respect as they mourned the victims

Kate laid her own bouquet of flowers in tribute to the victims, left, as the couple bowed their heads to pay respect, right

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, centre, was one of the players on hand to greet the Srivaddhanaprabha family, pictured, before the royals arrived

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, centre, was one of the players on hand to greet the Srivaddhanaprabha family, pictured, before the royals arrived

Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, centre, was also at the stadium to meet the Royals, after he witnessed the crash and had to be 'held back' from running towards the flames to help

Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, centre, was also at the stadium to meet the Royals, after he witnessed the crash and had to be ‘held back’ from running towards the flames to help

Aiyawatt, left, and his mother both stood in a prayer position as they showed respect for the late chairman

Aiyawatt, left, and his mother both stood in a prayer position as they showed respect for the late chairman

An aerial view of the crashed helicopter's charred remains shows the damage caused to the vehicle in the accident

An aerial view of the crashed helicopter’s charred remains shows the damage caused to the vehicle in the accident

Leicetser City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, pictured after the club's 2016 Premier League triumph, was praised for his 'contribution to football' by Prince William

Leicetser City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, pictured after the club’s 2016 Premier League triumph, was praised for his ‘contribution to football’ by Prince William

The Duchess laid an arrangement of white flowers wrapped in blue, reflecting the Club’s colours, with a wreath card reading: ‘To Vichai and all those who died in this terrible tragedy, you will be sorely missed. 

‘Our sincere condolences to the city of Leicester.’ 

It was signed ‘William’ and ‘Catherine’. 

William and Kate, wearing a coat by Catherine Walker, took a moment to view the sea of floral tributes, scarves and flags left by mourners. 

William looked solemn as he chatted to each player and shared a warm moment with Aiyawatt, putting a hand on his shoulder and telling the players: ‘You’re in very good hands.’ 

The Royals knew Mr Srivaddhanaprabha and Prince William, who is the President of the Football Association, and has previously highlighted his ‘big contribution to football’ after helping Leicester win the Premier League in 2016 just two years after the club was promoted from the Championship. 

William, a keen football fan, said he was lucky to have known the billionaire duty-free entrepreneur for several years.

He said at the time: ‘He made such a big contribution to football, not least through Leicester City’s magical 2016 season that captured the imagination of the world.’

The Duke and Duchess will begin the day by visiting the tribute site near the stadium to pay their respects to those killed in the accident, before meeting with a group of players and members of the club’s management team.

The couple will also meet volunteers and club supporters who helped to relocate the thousands of tributes, which were left outside the front of the stadium, to their present site.

Afterwards, the Cambridges will visit King Power Stadium where they will meet representatives from local charities who were supported by the club’s owner.

The Royals, left, were led along a blue carpet to the tribute area by Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, 33, right, followed by his mother and sister

The Royals, left, were led along a blue carpet to the tribute area by Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, 33, right, followed by his mother and sister

Manager Claude Puel, centre, and defender Harry Maguire, right, were also among the club staff at the memorial

Manager Claude Puel, centre, and defender Harry Maguire, right, were also among the club staff at the memorial

Jamie Vardy revealed he enjoyed a close relationship with the owner and his family after the fatal crash and was pictured today embracing Mr Srivaddhanaprabha's widow

Jamie Vardy revealed he enjoyed a close relationship with the owner and his family after the fatal crash and was pictured today embracing Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s widow

William and Kate pictured in front of the tributes at the King Power Stadium

The couple, pictured, said they wanted to acknowledge the 'warmth and compassion' of the people of Leicester with their visit

William and Kate, pictured in front of the tributes at the King Power Stadium, said they wanted to acknowledge the ‘warmth and compassion’ of the people of Leicester with their visit

The Duke and Duchess were also shadowed by police officials in Leicester today, pictured, with the investigation continuing into how the crash occurred

The Duke and Duchess were also shadowed by police officials in Leicester today, pictured, with the investigation continuing into how the crash occurred

Later, the couple will visit the University of Leicester to hear about some of the educational programmes Leicester City has helped to support.  

This includes a £1million donation made by Mr. Srivaddhanaprabha to the university in May 2018, which will be used to help fund medical research and training through the creation of a Professorship in Child Health.

Their Royal Highnesses will then have the opportunity to speak with students, before meeting some of the University’s Centenary scholars. 

The Centenary scholar programme has been created as the University prepares to celebrate 100 years since a fund was established by Dr Astley Clarke for its foundation. 

It was created as a living memorial to those who fought and made sacrifices in the First World War. 

Leicester City's staff and players were visibly emotional during their first game after the crash against Cardiff, pictured 

Leicester City’s staff and players were visibly emotional during their first game after the crash against Cardiff, pictured 

Eric Swaffer, 53 (pictured with Dalai Lama) was the Srivaddhanaprabha family's pilot and died in the crash

His partner Izabela Lechowicz, 46, was also a regular flyer from the family. She also died

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter was flown by Eric Swaffer, 53 (pictured left with the Dalai Lama) who has posted pictures of the craft on social media. His partner, also on board the ill-fated aircraft was flight instructor and partner Izabela Lechowicz, 46 (pictured right) 

Kaveporn Punpare was an assistant to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and sadly perished in the doomed flight, alongside his colleagues and the chairman

Kaveporn Punpare was an assistant to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and sadly perished in the doomed flight, alongside his colleagues and the chairman

Nusara Suknamai, a former Miss Thailand competitor, was one of the members of staff who tragically perished on board

Nusara Suknamai, a former Miss Thailand competitor, was one of the members of staff who tragically perished on board

The doomed Leicester City helicopter pilot may have been become stuck in a ‘dead man’s curve’ after the aircraft’s tail rotor failed, experts have suggested

The doomed Leicester City helicopter pilot may have been become stuck in a ‘dead man’s curve’ after the aircraft’s tail rotor failed, experts have suggested

Investigators are still trying to determine why the aircraft plunged 430ft to the ground just moments after taking off from the pitch on October 27.  

Footage of the aircraft taking off from the King Power Stadium pitch appeared to show parts of the rear rotor flying off as it hovered above the stands.

But the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) says it still has not identified the cause of the crash, although it appears the helicopter turned sharply right when the pilot was using the left pedal and ‘did not respond to his command’.

The AAIB’s preliminary report also says that its ‘investigation of the tail rotor system is being carried out as a priority’.  

Instead of crashing into the stands and hospitality areas it came down on empty land 200 yards from the stadium before erupting in a fireball.

It avoided busy roads and the last of the 31,000 fans still in the area along with dozens of police officers.

Experts suspect the tail rotor failed, sending the £6million AugustaWestland AW169 into a ‘dead man’s curve’ that even the best pilot would not have been able to handle.

Popular Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha started with a duty free shop in 1989 and will always be the owner that guided club to title 

By Nathan Salt for MailOnline 

A helicopter belonging to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was engulfed in flames after taking off from the King Power Stadium following his side’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.

Srivaddhanaprabha usually departs the King Power inside his private helicopter after home games alongside other members of the club’s hierarchy.

Here, Sportsmail profiles Srivaddhanaprabha’s success in and out of football, including how he helped Leicester win the Premier League title in 2016.

He is fifth on the Thailand richlist of billionaires and is said to be worth close to £4billion

He is fifth on the Thailand richlist of billionaires and is said to be worth close to £4billion

Srivaddhanaprabha was born in Bangkok on April 4, 1958 to a Thai Chinese family.

The Thai billionaire Srivaddhanaprabha kick-started his business journey by opening a duty free shop back in Bangkok in 1989 at the age of 31.

His retail company, King Power, is now a staple of the country’s airports and the brand also have the naming rights to Leicester City’s stadium.

Having been the club’s primary shirt sponsor for the three previous seasons, he wanted to step up his involvement and opted to go all in and become owner.

Buying the club for a reported £39million in 2010 proved a shrewd investment as he oversaw a meteoric rise which saw the Foxes historically win the Premier League title in 2015-16.

When he took over, the club had just earned promotion from League One, the third tier in the English football pyramid, and with Nigel Pearson trusted to remain in charge, the Foxes were quickly back in the Premier League.

According to Forbes, the Midlands club is now valued at £371m after becoming a staple of the top half in the league under Srivaddhanaprabha’s reign.

Ranked as fifth on Forbes’ Thailand rich list, Srivaddhanaprabha has built his empire up to a staggering $4.9billion (£3.8bn).

Sportsmail profiles the career of Leicester City's Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Sportsmail profiles the career of Leicester City’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

After enjoying rich success with Leicester – which saw them defy all the odds in reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League, Srivaddhanaprabha bought Belgian club OH Leuven in May 2017.

The club reside in the Brlgian second division but could act as a real beneficiary for young players at Leicester in the future.

Srivaddhanaprabha is a keen football supporter and has continued to put money into the Foxes with his son Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha involved as club vice-chairman.

He is married to Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha, and has four children Voramas, Apichet, Arunroong, and Aiyawatt.

He is popular among players and is regularly in attendance for matches at the King Power

He is popular among players and is regularly in attendance for matches at the King Power

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.