Royals

Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Visit Air Cadets As They Honour Prince Philip

The event was the couple's first joint public engagement since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined air cadets honouring the memory of the Duke of Edinburgh as they held their first joint public event since his death.

William and Kate visited 282 (East Ham) Squadron, Air Training Corps in east London in tribute to Prince Philip, who served as Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps for 63 years.

In 2015, he passed the military patronage of the Air Training Corps (ATC) to the Duchess of Cambridge, who became Honorary Air Commandant.

During the visit, the Duchess of Cambridge showed off her aerial skills in a flight simulator as she took the controls of the Grob tutor, a light aircraft that thousands of cadets use each year for air experience flights.

The Duke, who learnt to fly with the RAF and piloted the service's search and rescue helicopters, joked "I'll hold the handbag" and stood back with his wife's clutch as she got to grips with the controls.

The Duchess in a flight simulator.

The Cambridges also met cadets to learn how they are developing life skills during their time with the ATC.

They also spoke with a group of serving RAF officers who were all previously cadets.

Many cadets go on to carry out roles in the Royal Air Force and other services, and about 40% of officers and 50% of all aircrew currently serving in the RAF are ex-cadets.

Group Captain Al Lewis said of the visit: "It was a really unique experience and the cadets only found out an hour before they arrived. Given that we haven’t had much activity over the last years it was a real morale boost.

"It was wonderful for them, too, to see the real legacy that the Duke of Edinburgh left.

"I spoke to the Duke about whether he was still flying and he said he was very keen to try to keep his flying hours up. He clearly misses flying professionally.

"It was interesting to see the Duchess get in the simulator instead of him. She did very well. He was goading her to say 'well it's not as easy as it seems'."

At the end of the visit, the squadron took part in a Three Cheers Salute in honour of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Throughout his patronage, Prince Philip frequently met with cadets and took a keen interest in their activities and achievements.

Established in 1941 and sponsored by the Royal Air Force, the Air Cadets is a UK-wide cadet force with more than 32,000 members aged between 12 and 19.