In the next stage of his military career the royal will earn his wings

By Simon Perry
October 10, 2007 01:45 PM
Sgt Gary Tyson/Ministry of Defence/AP

Prince William is set to follow in his father’s footsteps and learn how to fly helicopters and planes.

The 25-year-old prince plans to undertake a short attachment with the Royal Air Force early next year. The four-month duty will start in January. After that, he will then take on a stint with another branch of the military – the Royal Navy.

In a statement, the palace said Wednesday that this was all part of the plan to “familiarize” the second-in-line to the British throne with “the structures, capabilities and ethos of the RAF and the Royal Navy.” One day, as King, William will be the head of all the armed forces in the UK.

The statement added that, in the Royal Navy, the prince “will spend time gaining an understanding of the fullest spectrum of the Royal Navy s capabilities – from submarines to the ships of the surface fleet, as well as the Fleet Air Arm.”

These career moves follow his time as an armored reconnaissance troop leader with the Household Cavalry Regiment. Since his training was completed in the summer, William has been commanding a troop of 11 men in four small tanks known as Scimitar.

He joined that regiment after graduating from Sandhurst military academy in December. During his graduation ceremony, he was watched by his girlfriend Kate Middleton, her parents and some of his closest friends as he marched out in front of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.

As he eventually moves toward completing his likely three-year military career, he will continue to further develop his royal duties, such as his patronages with the homelessness charity Centrepoint.

William is following in his father’s footsteps as The Prince of Wales earned his “wings” in 1971 after training as a jet pilot in the RAF. He also went on to command the Royal Navy minesweeper HMS Bronington.