The Royal Family and Air Force in the United Kingdom

The Queen has strong links with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom and with Commonwealth Air Forces. Her Majesty is supported by other Members of the Royal Family who hold honorary ranks in connection with Royal Air Force stations. Some members of the Royal family also hold pilot licences.

Prince Andrew, Duke of York

The Prince Andrew joined the Royal Navy in 1979 on a short service commission as a Seaman Officer subspecialising as a Pilot.

When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a British territory, in 1982, the ship on which Prince Andrew was stationed, the HMS Invincible, was to be sent to retake the island. Throughout the conflict, he flew on various missions and helped with casualty evacuation, transport, and search-and-rescue operations.

The Royal Family and Air Force in the United Kingdom Prince Andrew, Duke of York.  

Charles, Prince of Wales

Following family tradition, Charles served in the navy and Air Force. After requesting and receiving Royal Air Force training during his second year at Cambridge, on 8 March 1971, he flew himself to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell to train as a jet pilot.

The prince was eventually promoted to Group Captain for the Royal Air Force in 1995, and in the new millennium was again promoted to the rank of Air Chief Marshal.

The Royal Family and Air Force in the United Kingdom Charles, Prince of Wales.  

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

William served in the United Kingdom's armed forces from 2006 until 2013, during which he served as a search and rescue helicopter pilot. He then switched to working as a helicopter pilot with the East Anglia Air Ambulance recently.

His first rescue mission (as co-pilot of an RAF Sea King Helicopter) was a response to an emergency call from the Liverpool Coastguard on 2 October 2010. William, who was excited to finally take part in an active mission, and the other three members of the crew, flew from their base at RAF Valley to an offshore gas rig in Morecambe Bay, northwest England. A man who had suffered an apparent heart attack on the rig was airlifted to a local hospital.

In 2014, it was announced that the Duke would take on a full-time role as a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), based at Cambridge Airport.

Recently, Prince William announced that he will leave his job as an air ambulance pilot and move his family to London as he steps up his royal duties this year.

The Duke said it had been a "huge privilege" to be a helicopter pilot with the East Anglia Air Ambulance, a role he has had since July 2015.

The Royal Family and Air Force in the United Kingdom Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.  

Prince Harry

In December 2008, Prince Harry passed his Army Air Corps ‘Grading’ and Pilot’s Selection Board interview to begin training to become and Army Air Corps Pilot in January 2009. On successful completion of that Army Pilots Course, Prince Harry was selected to train on the Apache Attack Helicopter. On the same day, it was announced that Prince Harry received his provisional wings from his father, The Prince of Wales, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps (AAC).

Prince Harry has undertaken two operational tours of Afghanistan, as a Forward Air Controller in 2007/08 and as an Apache Pilot between September 2012 and January 2013.

Prince Harry qualified as a co-pilot gunner (CPG) in February 2012 and was posted to 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, to gain further flying experience and to operate the aircraft on a number of exercises.

United Kingdom Prince Harry.  The Royal Family and Air Force in the United Kingdom