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The King formally handed over his Army Air Corps role to his eldest son

By Sean Coughlan
Royal correspondent

King Charles has handed over a prestigious role with the Army Air Corps to his son Prince William.

“The great thing is he’s a very good pilot indeed,” said the King.

It’s unusual for the King and the Prince of Wales to both take part in an engagement – and this has been a symbolic handing over of the baton.

The King had become colonel-in-chief of the Army Air Corps 32 years ago – and now he has been succeeded by his eldest son, Prince William.

Arriving by helicopter at the Army Aviation Centre in Hampshire, the King met Prince William for the formal moment of handing over this military title.

In an impromptu speech, the King said the moment was “tinged with great sadness after 32 years of knowing you all”.

He spoke of his “immense admiration” for the work of the Army Air Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan – and then endorsed his eldest son and successor.

“I do hope you’ll go from strength to strength in the future 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,” said the King.

Young well-wishers greeted the King as he arrived at the Army Aviation Centre

Once inside, he met with and chatted to staff member and their families

Prince William had been an RAF search and rescue pilot, spending three years at RAF Valley in Anglesey.

The King spoke in front of an Apache helicopter on display at the Army Flying Museum at the corps’ base in Middle Wallop.

But he didn’t mention his younger son, Prince Harry, who flew Apaches in Afghanistan, where he served two tours of duty.

There was also no meeting with the King when Prince Harry was in the UK last week, with Prince Harry’s spokesman saying the King had too full a diary.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan then went on a visit to Nigeria, including events linked to charities and his Invictus Games project.

After the King left the handover ceremony, Prince William went on to carry out his first engagement in his new role – viewing training and getting a briefing on the current work of the Army Air Corps.