The Prince of Wales attended the graduation ceremony of the Queen’s Squadron at RAF College Cranwell, in his role as Marshal of the RAF. You can see footage of the event at the end of this article.
Prince Charles headed to Lincolnshire to review the Queen’s Squadron as they officially completed their training.
The future King was accompanied by the Commandant, Air Commodore Suraya Marshall, when he took position on the dais to oversee the graduation ceremony and take the salute.
152 cadets were on parade, comprising of three training courses; Initial Officer Training Course (IOTC) Number 63 and 64, and a Specialist Officer Initial Training (SOIT) Course.
Charles himself graduated from Cranwell and was awarded his RAF pilot’s wings in 1971, and last visited Cranwell in 2008 for Prince William’s Wings Graduation Ceremony; The Duke of Cambridge is the fourth generation of the Royal Family to become an RAF pilot upon his graduation, following brothers Edward VIII and George VI, Prince Philip and his father.
In June 2012, The Prince of Wales was appointed to the rank of Marshal of the RAF, the highest rank in the British Royal Air Force.
As Reviewing Officer at the ceremony, The Prince of Wales inspected the graduates, and presented prizes to those who had excelled on each course.
As Reviewing Officer at the ceremony, The Prince of Wales inspected the ranks and presented prizes to the top performing cadets from each course. pic.twitter.com/Dpf1oJFsoI
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) July 16, 2020
RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire has a long and distinctive history dating back to its foundation as a Royal Navy Training Establishment in 1916. It was the world’s first Air Academy and today, it continues to select and train the next generation of officers and aircrew.
It is also home to No 3 Flying Training School which delivers the elementary flying training for fixed wing and multiengine student pilots from the RAF, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps, No 6 Flying Training School which oversees all University Air Squadrons in universities across the UK, the Tedder Leadership Academy and Robson Academy of Resilience.
RAF College Cranwell is also home to a broad range of Supported Force Elements including RAF Recruitment and Selection, Headquarters Air Cadets, Central Flying School and the Band of the RAF College.
Prince Charles began his speech by noting the consequences for the graduates and their families; he said, “I know that this a very special moment for you all and for your loved ones who, most regrettably, cannot be with us in person but, by the grace of modern technology, will be watching with immense pride from home.”
The RAF took all reasonable precautions to protect their personnel while continuing their essential training throughout, adhering to public health and government guidelines in view of the current Covid-19 outbreak.
Charles also noted how impressed he was with all the graduates, who have shown dedication to their training during the pandemic. “I am immensely impressed that you have all managed to continue with your training and reach this stage, given the complexities that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to every aspect of life,” he told them.
“I know that this will not have been easy and is a testament to the flexibility and determination, not only of the staff, but of every one of you. This same dedication, adaptability and willingness continually to push yourselves will be required time after time in your future careers. The same high standards that you have shown today will form the basis of safe and effective operations in the future, no matter what your role in the Royal Air Force.”
Air Commodore Suraya Marshall also spoke at the ceremony; she said: “The graduates have endured the most challenging of training periods. This is a truly unique occasion, of which all participants can be justifiably proud.”
After the graduation and parade, there was a flypast of a Typhoon and the Red Arrows to mark the occasion. Following this, there was a socially-distanced outdoor reception to celebrate the graduation.
The Prince of Wales then planted a lime tree at the in recognition of the College’s centenary, a tree-planting being traditional for such a graduation.