Prince Charles, Marshal of the RAF, inspected the ranks graduating from RAF College Cranwell today, in this the college's centenary year
The Prince of Wales paid tribute to RAF cadets who continued their training during the coronavirus pandemic as he attended a socially-distanced graduation ceremony, writes Sam Russell, PA.
In the Royal Air Force College’s Centenary year, Charles, 71, was the reviewing officer at Thursday’s parade at RAF College Cranwell, Lincolnshire, attended by cadets who have completed their initial officer training.
He inspected the ranks and presented course prizes to top-performing cadets, with no handshakes involved and winners collecting their awards from a table.
The prince, who wore number one RAF full ceremonial dress, said in a speech to around 150 cadets: “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.
“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.”
Family and friends of the graduating cadets were unable to attend the ceremony due to social distancing restrictions.
After a parade and flypasts of a Typhoon and the Red Arrows, Charles spoke to cadets gathered in circles at a socially-distanced outdoor reception.
Newark resident, Group Captain Paul McClurg, said: “I am so proud of the graduating officers who have work so hard to complete their training through these unprecedented times — an achievement worthy of recognition in our centenary year."
Commandant of the Royal Air Force College, Air Commodore Suraya Marshall, said: “The graduates have endured the most challenging of training periods.
“This is a truly unique occasion, of which all participants can be justifiable proud.”
Charles is himself a graduate of Cranwell, where he was awarded his RAF pilot’s wings in 1971.
He last visited the station in 2008 for the Duke of Cambridge’s graduation ceremony, when William become the fourth successive generation of the monarchy to become an RAF pilot.
Charles was appointed to the rank of Marshal of the RAF in 2012, the highest rank in the British Royal Air Force.
His Royal Highness arrived on the College Parade Square escorted by the commandant of the Royal Air Force College to take the Royal Salute whilst one Typhoon, from 41 Squadron, RAF Coningsby provided a fly past overhead.After reviewing the graduating officers, His Royal Highness presented the course prizes to the top performing cadets from each course.
The Queen’s Medal was also presented to the top performing cadet from all Initial Officer Training courses this year.
Musical accompaniment was provided by the Band of the Royal Air Force College, under the direction of Flt Lt Chris I’Anson, Director of Music.
Air Commodore Suraya Marshall said: “We are immensely proud to have His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as our Sovereign’s Parade Reviewing Officer.
"This day is all the more special as we celebrate the joint graduation of Initial Officer Training Courses Number 63, 64 and Specialist Officer Initial Training Course Number 3."
After the parade, His Royal Highness, met with the graduating officers on the Orange. In keeping with tradition, He was then invited to plant a Lime tree beside the College Parade Square.
Flying Officer Deonte Jam said: “Today, is a truly special day not just for me but my family and friends.
"My cohort and I have worked very hard to attain such a great achievement. I am eager to excel and excited to see what new experiences my role will provide. I am truly honoured and grateful for such a great opportunity. Congratulations to my fellow cadets."
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