The Princess of Wales’ new RAF role is a sweet nod to her late grandfather Peter Middleton – who once flew with Prince Philip.
Last night, King Charles, 74, announced that he had reshuffled some of the Royal Family’s military appointments.
While Prince William is set to take over Prince Harry’s old Army unit, the Princess of Wales has been granted three new roles.
The mother-of-three, 41, has been appointed the Commodore-in-Chief of the Fleet Air Arm, Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards and the Royal Honorary Air Commodore at RAF Coningsby.
This title was previously held by her husband, who had performed the role at the Lincolnshire base for 15 years from 2008.
The Princess of Wales (pictured at the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final) has been granted three new military roles by King Charles
The Princess’ new titles will be extra poignant for the royal as she has family connections to the RAF beyond Prince William.
Kate’s paternal grandfather Peter Middleton served as a fighter pilot during the Second World War.
In October 1966, the Princess’ grandfather flew from South America to London Heathrow with Prince Philip on board.
After touching down at the airport, the late Duke of Edinburgh – who was 45 at the time – posed for a photo with Heathrow’s manager Mr C. D. Waldron.
As the two men shook hands outside the plane, Peter Middleton – who was still dressed in his pilot uniform – is seen smiling at Prince Philip in the background.
What’s more, it seems the two men, whose grandchildren married in 2011, were fairly well acquainted – as Peter Middleton even co-piloted a few of the Duke’s flights during his South America tour.
In 1962, Prince Philip went on a two-month tour of South America, where he visited British factories, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca.
He insisted on flying himself to many of his locations, and undertook 49 of 62 flights himself, with Peter as co-pilot.
Pictured: Prince Philip shakes hands with Heathrow manager Mr. C.D. Waldron in October 1966 as Peter Middleton (seen in a pilot uniform) smiles in their direction
The Princess of Wales pictured with the late Prince Philip on the Buckingham Palace balcony in June 2017
Captain Peter Middleton died at the age of 90 just days before the Prince and Princess announced their engagement in 2010.
Peter received a letter of thanks from Prince Philip for his service on the tour, and a pair of gold cufflinks, according to his obituary.
Peter met his co-pilot’s grandson, Prince William, on his 90th birthday – and William attended his funeral with Kate later that year.
Peter, whose son Michael is Kate’s father, studied English at New College, Oxford before he served as a RAF fighter pilot during the Second World War.
He married Kate’s grandmother, Valerie Glassborow in 1946. Valerie worked as a Government Code and Cypher School in Bletchley Park and died in 2006.
Kate Middleton’s maternal grandparents Valerie Glassborow and Peter Middleton (centre) pictured on their wedding day in December 1946
Prince Philip – who passed away at the age of 99 in April 2021 – was always a keen flyer, but worked in the Navy for most of his military career.
Before he married the Queen, he quickly rose through the ranks of royal command and in 1942 he became one of the youngest officers in the Royal Navy to be made First Lieutenant and second-in-command of a ship – HMS Wallace, aged just 21.
His active service stopped in 1951, but the following year he was appointed Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.
Prince Andrew was stripped of the title of Commodore-in-Chief of the Fleet Air Arm in January 2022 – as he faced a civil sexual assault trial that he later paid millions to settle.
The reshuffle comes as the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s death approaches, with King Charles expected to mark the occasion ‘quietly and privately’ at Balmoral, while William and Kate will reportedly lead the tributes to the late monarch.
Announcing the changes, the Ministry of Defence said William, who qualified as an RAF search and rescue pilot, was now Colonel-in-Chief of The Army Air Corps.
It means he will represent the Army’s airborne wing, including his brother’s former unit – 662 Squadron – with one royal commentator claiming Harry himself could have been in line for the role previously.
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