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Prince Charles suits up for RAF parade as he greets graduates after long pandemic wait

NewsPrince Charles suits up for RAF parade as he greets graduates after long pandemic wait

The event was organised for those who had graduated from Cranwell and RAF Halton during the pandemic when restrictions meant guests were not permitted. Around 1,500 were in attendance including the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chief of the Air Staff.

The Prince of Wales, who is Marshal of the Royal Air Force, appeared in great spirits as he arrived for the event on Friday morning.

Charles, 73, was joined by Commandant, Air Commodore Andrew Dickens to inspect some of the aviators.

Charles was pictured wearing full ceremonial RAF dress, complete with a sword, for the occasion.

The heir to the throne reviewed the officers who stood to attention during the event and spoke with some of them for a moment as they finally celebrated their graduation which had been delayed due to COVID-19.

The heir to the throne delivered a short speech at the event where he praised graduating officers and aviators for being able to work so hard throughout the “complexities”, brought about during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Following the parade, His Royal Highness met with aviators and their families at a reception in the RAF College.

The heir to the throne began his career in the Armed Services at the college, where he started a four-month attachment.

Charles had already gained a private pilot’s licence and flew himself to RAF Cranwell to start advanced training to qualify as a jet pilot.

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During a speech, the Prince of Wales reflected on his own time studying there and shared the immense pride he felt after graduating.

He said: “I can just remember, very nearly fifty years ago next year, being on parade for my own Flying Graduation, here at RAF Cranwell in 1971.

“Believe it or not in those days I was part of the very first graduate entry course at the time.

“My father was the inspecting officer and it was a very proud moment after all the effort that had gone into eventually gaining my wings.”

His son Prince William also graduated from the college in 2008 following an intensive training course.

The Duke of Cambridge learned to fly Tucanos and Squirrel helicopters and also discovered more about the ethos of the RAF.

In his role as Air Chief Marshal, Prince Charles was the one responsible for presenting William with his wings.

Charles also attended a graduation ceremony at the college as Reviewing Officer in 2001.

The future king was appointed to the rank of Marshal of the RAF in 2012.

The position is the highest rank in the British Royal Air Force.

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