King Charles says William is a 'very good pilot indeed' as he makes him chief of Harry's old regiment in snub to son

13 May 2024, 13:37 | Updated: 13 May 2024, 14:00

King Charles says William is a "very good pilot indeed" as he makes him chief of Harry&squot;s old regiment in snub to son
King Charles says William is a "very good pilot indeed" as he makes him chief of Harry's old regiment in snub to son. Picture: Alamy / PA

By Danielle De Wolfe

King Charles has labelled son William a "very good pilot indeed" in a historic handover that saw the Prince made chief of Harry's old regiment - a move many have described as a major snub.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Widely considered a symbolic handover, the King bestowed the new title to the Prince of Wales in a short ceremony at the Army Aviation Centre in Hampshire on Monday.

Harry had previously served in the regiment during his time in Afghanistan.

Arriving by helicopter, the King the made one of his first public engagements since his gradual return to duties following his cancer diagnosis, as his treatment continues.

It marks a historic succession, given the King formerly held the position of colonel-in-chief of the Army Air Corps for 32 years - a role now occupied by eldest son, Prince William.

It follows youngest son Harry's recent flying visit to the UK to celebrate the Invictus Games, a short trip that did not see the King and reunite with his son.

It marks a historic succession, given the King formerly held the position colonel-in-chief of the Army Air Corps for 32 years - a role now occupied by eldest son, Prince William.
It marks a historic succession, given the King formerly held the position colonel-in-chief of the Army Air Corps for 32 years - a role now occupied by eldest son, Prince William. Picture: Alamy

Harry instead continued on to Africa, where he was reunited with wife Meghan as part of a charity trip.

The couple arrived in Lagos yesterday as part of a three-day visit, meeting with charity projects across the Nigeria.

Charles and William met veterans and families ahead of the ceremony, as well as visiting exhibits in the Army Flying Museum.

The King noted the moment was "tinged with great sadness", given his longstanding links to the military arm, but added William's piloting skills were "very encouraging".

Read more: Jess Phillips calls for independent investigation into Natalie Elphicke lobbying claims

Read more: King Charles 'offered Harry royal residence' for his UK visit but he 'turned it down' following snub

He added that he had "immense admiration" for the work the Air Corps had undertaken in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of the visit, King Charles also unveiled a plaque commemorating an Apache helicopter, which is set to be displayed at the museum.

Charles and William both met veterans and families ahead of the ceremony, as well as visiting exhibits in the Army Flying Museum.
Charles and William both met veterans and families ahead of the ceremony, as well as visiting exhibits in the Army Flying Museum. Picture: Alamy

Pointing at the helicopter, the king explained how he had "been taken up in one of these, all those years ago".

"I shall never forget it," the King added.

The appointment follows the initial assumption the role would pass to Harry given his military credentials, however, after stepping back from royal duties, the option was taken off the table.

The role has now passed to Prince William, who has never served in the military, instead working as a search and rescue and air ambulance pilot.

King Charles says William is a "very good pilot indeed" as he makes him chief of Harry&squot;s old regiment in snub to son
King Charles says William is a "very good pilot indeed" as he makes him chief of Harry's old regiment in snub to son. Picture: PA

Ahead of the ceremony, Buckingham Palace announced on Saturday: "At the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, His Majesty The King will officially hand over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

"In August 2023, following His Majesty's Accession, The King was pleased to announce military appointments including that The Prince of Wales would become Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps.

"The role was previously held by His Majesty The King, as Prince of Wales, for 31 years."