King admits “great sadness” as he passes on the role of Prince William

The King formally handed over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to the Prince of Wales during a visit to his airfield in Hampshire. Charles – who became the inaugural holder of the title 32 years ago – met his eldest son in a rare joint official engagement at the Middle Wallop base on Monday afternoon to hand over the role.

The King said it was a “great joy” to meet servicemen, their families and veterans on a previous visit to the Army Flying Museum. He unveiled a plaque commemorating an Apache AH Mk.1 which will be on display, the first of its kind to be installed in a UK museum. The aircraft was one of four involved in a rescue mission during the Battle of Fort Jugroom in 2007.

He said: “Let me just say what a great joy it is to be with you even briefly on this occasion, but it is also a great sadness after 32 years of knowing you all, admiring your many activities and achievements during the time I was fortunate enough to be Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps”.

General Nick Barton, who took part in the rescue operation, said it was a “unique honour” to meet the King, who served as an important “role figure” for the soldiers. The Army Air Corps is the Duke of Sussex’s old unit, where he served as an Apache helicopter commander and gunner co-pilot during his second tour in Afghanistan in 2012.

The King’s decision to hand over the role to William was seen as a blow to Harry when it was announced last year. The Duke had been considered the most likely candidate to take the honor one day if he remained a working royal.

The King handed over the Prince of Wales in front of an Apache helicopter(Image: Kin Cheung/PA)

Charles spoke with a veteran who previously underwent chemotherapy for testicular cancer, discussing the loss of taste as a result of the treatment. William will embark on his first engagement with the Army Air Corps later in the afternoon, receiving a briefing on his work and inspecting training and operational aircraft, as well as talking to soldiers.

He will then leave the base in an Apache as part of a capacity flight. The King trained with the RAF during his second year at Cambridge University and received his wings in August 1971. William served in the Army with the Blues and Royals and was an RAF Search and Rescue pilot for three years in the RAF Valley in Anglesey.