William takes a bow as the Queen says hello
With the biggest Royal wedding in decades only weeks away, you could forgive Prince William for feeling nervous. Yesterday, he had the added pressure of a visit from his grandmother at the RAF base where he is stationed.
The prince admitted he has lost sleep over the forthcoming ceremony as the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were given a tour of the facility at Anglesey from which he has completed more than a dozen missions as part the search and rescue team.
William, who weds his fiance Kate Middleton on 29 April, said: "I was telling everyone I did the rehearsal the other day and my knees started tapping quite nervously.
"It's quite a daunting prospect but very exciting and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it, but there's quite a lot of planning to be done in the last four weeks."
Yesterday was the first time the Queen had seen William at work since he earned his helicopter wings in January last year. The prince has spoken highly of his comrades, describing them as the "fourth emergency service" and some of his military colleagues will be at the wedding.
The royal couple were greeted by station commander Group Captain Bruce Hedley, but it was William who showed them around the aircraft used to deploy rescue teams to the mountains of Snowdonia and out over the Irish sea.
They examined an RAF Sea King helicopter, which is used to winch people to safety during missions, before officially opening the Moran Building, a new training facility for Hawk pilots.
The Queen was due to open the new premises in December, but was stopped by heavy snow-falls.
The royal guests were then taken to a hangar at RAF Valley, where they met the instructors who had helped William when he first started at the base.
William said the team was akin to a "big family in the sky", adding: "Having witnessed it for the past few months, I'm very proud to be amongst the Search and Rescue guys and very privileged to be flying with some of the best pilots I think in the world."
Colleagues who trained the prince said his position as second-in-line to the throne did not mean he was afforded any privileges. Flight Lieutenant Mark Pickles said: "I think everyone thought he would get special treatment but, going through the training with him, he was treated the same as any other student.
"That's great for the air force and great for him, because his aim was to be a credible pilot, which he has proved."
Flt Lt Andy Doyle said although William may be second-in-line to the British throne, he did not escape mickey-taking from his comrades:
"Nobody is immune" he said, "he is just one of the normal pilots.
"I think it's to his credit, his attitude was spot-on - we forget who he is, but in a good way."
Flt Lt Alan Conner said after meeting the Queen: "She realised we flew with him - we both taught Will when he came through the training unit.
"He has done everything that everyone else has to do, there's been no shortcuts whatsoever."
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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