Prince Harry visited the Army Aviation Centre in Hampshire today, where he presented new pilots with their wings.
The soon-to-be newly wed was in high spirits as he arrived at the centre, the same location where The Prince of Wales presented him with his own wings, after graduating as an Army Helicopter Pilot in 2010.
Today’s ceremony was the last Wings Parade to be held at the Hampshire location, before it transfers to the Defence Helicopter Flying School at Shawbury.
Harry wore a civilian suit with three medals pinned to his chest, including the Operation Herrick medal for his service in Afghanistan, and the Diamond Jubilee medal.
The Prince, 33, reviewed the troops and presented 12 graduates with their wings. After the ceremony, the Prince posed for photos with the new recruits, before chatting to the pilots and their families, including in front of a helicopter.
During one conversation, His Royal Highness remarked: “You’re now going to end up flying some of the best aircraft that we have to offer.
“In certain areas, budgets are being shrunk, but essentially you guys are the assets, the aircraft is the asset, and just don’t forget who you’re serving and who you’re supporting.”
Prince Harry comments seemed to suggest that the defence budget is too low and were praised by the former head of the Royal Navy, who said that more funds were required to modernise Britain’s military.
Lord West of Spithead said: “Any royal ‘stands into danger’ when he makes comments that directly relate to political issues. I am delighted he is saying it because it is true.
“The Modernising Defence Programme instigated by Gavin Williamson will have to come up with more funding for defence.”
Sergeant Ryan Nelson, 26, from County Durham, was awarded two prizes at the graduation, and said of Prince Harry: “He was firing away little nuggets, little tips on how we could better ourselves as a pilot.
“The best tip he gave me is that he told me about the fact that when he first got in the Apache he could barely get in, he didn’t know where to put his helmet, his monocle was in the wrong place, he was just in a general state of rag to be honest.
“He was like ‘just expect that, if it does happen, don’t be put off by it, it’s all progression. It will get hard at times but it’s all completely doable’.”
The fifth-in-line to the throne is a passionate advocate for the mental health of service men, women and veterans. Yesterday, he spoke at the Veterans’ Mental Health Conference at King’s College London, where he said that more help is needed for veterans battling with mental health issues.