Prince William leaves RAF to pursue charity work

The Duke of Cambridge is expected to leave Anglesey and return to London with his wife Catherine and Prince George

The Duke of Cambridge has left operational duties in the armed forces after completing his tour as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot, Kensington Palace has announced.

The duke carried out his last shift on Tuesday and is now working towards expanding his core charitable interests, particularly in the field of conservation of endangered species.

He will continue to carry out royal engagements but is not expected to increase his number of public duties.

Kensington Palace said his decision to make this a “transitional” year while he considered options for public service was taken before his son George was born in July.

A further announcement about the shape of his next role will be made within the next 12 months.

The duke was widely expected to leave the military and return to London with his wife and Prince George, rather than opt for another tour of duty with the RAF.

The duke was known as Flight Lieutenant Wales in the air force and was based at RAF Valley on Anglesey. During his three-year tour he took part in 156 search and rescue operations, with 149 people being rescued.

At a country show on Anglesey last month, the duke spoke movingly about his time in Wales, saying: “This island has been our first home together, and it will always be an immensely special place for us both. Catherine and I look forward to returning again and again over the coming years with our family.”

Kensington Palace said the new parents were expected to move into their recently refurbished apartments in the palace in the coming weeks.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford said during his tour that the prince had helped saved lives in the most demanding of conditions: “Flight Lieutenant Wales has been an integral part of the Royal Air Force’s search and rescue force, as a Sea King pilot on No 22 Squadron … for the past three years. Throughout his tour his airmanship, often in the most demanding of conditions, has contributed directly to saving lives in the mountains of north Wales and from the ravages of the Irish Sea. He has earned the respect of all who have worked with him as a highly professional and competent pilot.”

The duke began his military career more than seven years ago when he followed his younger brother, Prince Harry, into Sandhurst.

After St Andrews University he began 44 weeks of training at the royal military academy in Camberley, Surrey, where the course is designed to push new recruits to the brink of exhaustion and shape cadets into army officers.

By signing up, the then 23-year-old prince was continuing a historic family tradition of military service and he became the most senior royal in recent memory to attend the college.

In December 2006, he graduated and was commissioned into the British army as an officer. The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and William’s …read more