Prince William leaves RAF, conservation awaits

Prince William has left his role as an RAF search and rescue pilot. Picture: PA
Prince William has left his role as an RAF search and rescue pilot. Picture: PA
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The Duke of Cambridge has completed his tour as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot and left operational duties in the armed forces, Kensington Palace announced yesterday.

William effectively left the RAF on Tuesday when he carried out his last shift following a three-year tour of duty. The second in line to the throne is in a “transitional” year, sources have said, and is mulling over options for his “public service”.

An announcement will be made about his decision within the next 12 months.

The palace would not give details about what form the public service could take but there has been speculation William could take on a full-time role in an area he is passionate about.

In a statement the palace said the duke would continue to carry out royal engagements, but he is not expected to increase the number of official events he attends.

But he will work towards expanding his core charitable interests particularly in the field of conservation of endangered species.

The duke had been widely expected to leave the military and return to London with Kate and baby son George, pictured below, rather than opt for another tour of duty with the RAF.

He 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.

As the duke will one day be king, his future is dictated to a large degree and he has to prepare himself for that role. The decision might have been taken reluctantly as he spoke movingly about his time in Wales in a speech at a country show on Anglesey last month.

He said: “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.”

The Cambridges will soon move into their refurbished Kensington Palace apartment.