King Charles bestows Prince William Colonel-In-Chief honour of Harry’s old corps and gives insight into cancer treatment

Rebecca English
Daily Mail
King Charles handed over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to Prince William. (AP PHOTO)
King Charles handed over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to Prince William. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

King Charles paid a sweet tribute to his son and heir yesterday as he handed over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps.

In a short, off-the-cuff speech, His Majesty described his eldest son as a “very good pilot indeed” and assured the Corps that they would be in safe hands.

The King held the role for 31 years when he was Prince of Wales and announced last August that William would succeed him.

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Ironically his younger son Harry served with the Army Air Corps in Afghanistan as an Apache attack helicopter co-pilot. He also trained at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, where yesterday’s event was held.

But the Duke of Sussex’s decision to quit royal life means he would not be eligible for the honorary role.

While William was not involved in active conflict during his time in the military, he is an experienced helicopter pilot.

Denied the chance to serve on the front-line given his proximity to the throne, the royal insisted he wanted to be able to “look his troops in the eye” and volunteered to train and serve as a search-and-rescue pilot with the RAF for three years.

He later flew as a civilian with East Anglian Air Ambulance.

On his visit to the Army Aviation Centre, the King said: “I just want to say what a great joy it is to be with you, even briefly, on this occasion.

“But also, it is tinged with great sadness after 32 years of knowing you all, and admiring all your many activities and your achievements throughout the time that I’ve been lucky enough to be Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps. And of course, all that time on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, I watched with, again, immense admiration for what you did.

“I shall never forget it, nor will I forget the fact that when I first became Colonel-in-Chief, you still had quite a few fixed-wing aircraft, one or two of which I flew in, along with some rather ancient helicopters.

“So all I can say is that having had the pleasure of knowing you for so long, I do hope you’ll go from strength to strength with the Prince of Wales as your new Colonel-in-Chief.

“The great thing is he’s a very good pilot indeed, so that’s encouraging. So ladies and gentlemen look after yourselves, and I can’t tell you how proud it has made me to have been involved with you all this time.”

He later formally relinquished the role by ceremonially handing over the regiment’s beret and stable belt in front of an Apache helicopter by the control tower.

Then William changed into combats for his first engagement as Colonel-in-Chief, receiving a briefing on their work and meeting staff before taking off in one of the attack helicopters himself.

The prince was also given an AAC tartan wrap for the Princess of Wales, a scarf for himself and three wooden helicopters for their children.

During the visit the King was overheard comparing details of his chemotherapy experience with a veteran who had also been battling cancer recently, both agreeing they had experienced a loss of taste during treatment.

William, 41, had also taken a break from official duties for several weeks in March and April this year, choosing to spend time with and care for his wife after she revealed she was undergoing preventative chemotherapy for cancer.

He said on Friday she was “doing well”.

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