The Princess of Wales made her debut as the Commodore-in-Chief of the Fleet Air Arm at a visit to Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton last week.
Catherine was appointed as Commodore-in-Chief over the summer by The King, a role previously held by The Duke of York.
The Princess spent a number of hours at the base in Somerset, which is the home to front-line helicopters supporting Royal Navy and Royal Marine operations on a global scale.
Catherine began her visit with an introduction to naval aviation at Yeovilton’s control tower. She met Royal Navy air traffic controllers who are trained to operate at sea and at shore bases and provide a range of air traffic control services to safely support aircraft movements.
The Royal then moved on to a hangar at the base and spoke with junior personnel, learning about their different roles within the Fleet Air Arm.
The Princess of Wales was shown around the Merlin Mk2, the Navy’s primary Anti-Submarine Warfare helicopter, but also used for Airborne Surveillance and Control to interdict aerial threats, search and rescue missions and general maritime security patrols.
Lieutenant Commander Marcus Pennant, Commanding Officer of 700X Naval Air Squadron said: ‘She was fantastic, genuinely interested, really personable and for me it was a great opportunity and a privilege to meet her’.
Her Royal Highness spent a good bit of time chatting with 700X engineer Leading Hand Chloe Chapman, who talked about life in Cornwall. She learnt that the Princess’ children were ‘very jealous’ that she was coming to look at ‘the really cool planes and put the Top Gun soundtrack on for the school run,’ Chapman said, ‘which gave me a little insight into her personal life.’
The visit concluded with a flight simulator at the Wildcat Training Centre, where personnel learn a variety of skills including aircraft engineering, flying and weapon loading. Kate also saw the process of weapon loading on the training Wildcat.
Able Seaman Danielle Beckinsale, who maintains Merlin helicopters said: ‘I’ve never met royalty before and wasn’t sure what to expect, but she was very down to earth,’ she said. ‘She was really, really nice, really genuine and interested in the role of a female engineer.’