The Prince of Wales and The Duchess
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Prince Harry

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Military Career

  • The Duke of Cambridge
  • The Duke of Cambridge
  • The Duke of Cambridge
  • The Duke of Cambridge

The Duke of Cambridge is a fully qualified operational captain within the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Force. The Duke will now command Search and Rescue Operations in RAF Sea King helicopters, as part of a four-person crew. Owing to The Duke’s unique role in the Armed Forces given that one day he will become its Head, he retains his commissions as officers in the Royal Navy and the Army, within the Household Cavalry.

The Duke is known as Flight Lieutenant Wales in the RAF. The usual length of time officers serve is 30-36 months after successful completion of training.


Military Career


The Duke graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, known as passing out, on 15th December 2006. He took part in the Sovereign's Parade which was presided over by his grandmother The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh. The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall also attended.

He was commissioned after completing a 44-week training course at Sandhurst which is in Camberley, Surrey. During his training, William was known as Officer Cadet Wales.

To gain entry to Sandhurst, His Royal Highness had to pass his Regular Commissions Board (RCB) which he did in October 2005.

The RCB enables senior Army assessors to find those best suited for training. The Board is demanding, and consists of a number of tests and tasks designed to assess mental, physical and emotional aptitude.

In 2007, The Duke and his brother Prince Harry visited the Defence Military Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in Surrey, to meet injured personnel.

In December 2007, His Royal Highness was promoted to Lieutenant in the Household Cavalry (Blues and Royals).

On 27th March 2008, The Duke and Prince Harry became Joint Patrons of the City Salute Appeal, a major open air event organised to celebrate and support this country’s armed forces and their families and to raise money for injured servicemen and women.

On 11th April 2008, His Royal Highness received his RAF wings from his father The Prince of Wales at RAF Cranwell after completing an intensive 12 week flying course.

The Duke became the fourth successive generation of the monarchy to become an RAF pilot.

On Sunday 27th April and Monday 28th April,The Duke undertook a 30-hour trip to RAF Detachments in theatre at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan and Al Udeid, Qatar as the culmination of his attachment to the RAF.

On 10th June, during a visit to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum open the Area of Remembrance, The Duke of Cambridge became Patron of the HMS Alliance Conservation Appeal.

In October 2008, The Queen appointed new Royal Air Force honorary appointments in recognition of the strong links between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Family. The Duke was appointed Honorary Air Commandant of Royal Air Force Coningsby.

Having started his training in January 2009 at RAF Valley in Anglesey, Wales, in January 2010, His Royal Highness successfully completed advanced helicopter flying training at the Defence Helicopter Flying School based at RAF Shawbury. The completion of the 12 month course is a significant step in his training to become a fully operational pilot with the Royal Air Force’s Search and Rescue Force (SARF).

Flight Lieutenant Wales completed the flying aspects of the course in December, including around 80 hours of training on the Griffin HT1 helicopter. His training included Advanced Handling; Night Flying; Emergency Handling and Tactical and Formation Flying.

The Duke of Cambridge has now graduated from the Search and Rescue Conversion Course at RAF Valley in Wales. The Duke first spent up to six weeks on the Search and Rescue Training Unit (SARTU) where he continued to train in the Griffin helicopter. He then continued his training on the Sea King Operational Conversion Unit (SKOCU), where he trained on a mixture of simulators and RAF Sea King helicopters. The course culminated with a series of exercises during the Summer designed to test the full range of the students’ skills.

Once operational a typical tour for a pilot in the SARF is 30 to 36 months. The Duke of Cambridge is based at RAF Anglesey and is a full-time operational Search and Rescue pilot.

On 1st February 2012, The Ministry of Defence confirmed that The Duke of Cambridge – or Flight Lieutenant Wales as he is known in the military – arrived in the Falkland Islands on a routine six-week operational deployment. He will undertake Search and Rescue Duties as part of a four man crew, which will include providing cover for the aviation assets based on the island as well as offering assistance to shipping vessels and those in need of mountain rescue.

On 7th June 2012, St. James’s Palace announced that The Duke of Cambridge has qualified as an operational captain within the Search and Rescue Force.

The operational captaincy check involved ground and air based practical tests, spread over a two day period. The tests were a culmination of almost two years of flying experience and study for The Duke of Cambridge since joining C Flight, 22 Squadron at RAF Valley in Anglesey in September 2010.

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