30 March 2013 - 10:37
Leaving The RAF: What Are Prince William’s Choices?


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A few months ago it was said that the 30-year-old Duke would have to think about a career change to allow for him to bring up his first child when it’s born in July and to assume more royal duties as Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh try to rest more in their advancing years.

Prince William was never originally intending to join the RAF when he joined the Armed Forces. He initially joined the Blues & Royals, the second Household Cavalry regiment in the British Army and passed out as a Second Lieutenant* in 2006 at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

After that, it was said that as the future King, he would not be able to participate in active service. He then started looking at career options and accepted a secondment to the Royal Air Force where he began work as a search and rescue pilot in 2009, as Flight Lieutenant Wales.

It was the first time a member of the Royal Family who was destined for the throne had sought military service in what is known in the UK as the ‘Junior Service’. In June last year, Prince William gained commission to be a pilot on board the Sea King helicopters rather than just a co-pilot.

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Tomorrow marks the end of the minimum amount of time that the Duke of Cambridge had to serve in the RAF, with his commission running out in a few months. He is expected not to renew his commission in the RAF after that and is expected to announce what he wishes to do within the next week or so.

The Duke’s choices are:

  • Transfer back to the Blues & Royals and continue work as an Army Officer. (He obtained the rank of Captain in 2009, meaning he is ‘Captain Wales’, just like his brother). Incidentally, Prince William is also Colonel of the Irish Guards, an appointment which was made shortly before the 2011 Royal Wedding (he wore the uniform at his wedding).
  • Leave military service to assume full time royal duties and to be able to look after his first child when it’s born in July. Taking over some duties from The Queen as she ages.
  • Flight Lieutenant Wales is also able to, should he choose it, stay in the RAF where he’ll be able to continue what he is doing now until 2015, when his Sea King helicopters are to be taken over and replaced by an American company who will operate the Search & Rescue base privately.

The most likely choice it seems, because of the Duke of Cambridge’s proximity to the throne making him unable to participate in active military service and with more going on within the Royal Family, is that he will leave the Armed Forces and pursue more royal duties. We look forward to hearing from St James’s Palace in the coming weeks as to what the Duke’s choices will be.

photo credit: Defence Images via photopin cc







  • keri12

    I think the most likely choice is that William will stay in the military in some capacity for the next few years, possibly even in the RAF. I know the media is all panting with excitment and glee over the idea of William leaving the military and becoming a ‘full-time royal’, but on close examination, that’s actually an unrealistic idea. The media tends to forget that the Queen has four children who are all senior royals.

    All of the Queen and Prince Philip’s children, and their spouses (except for Admr. Sir Timothy Lawrence), carry out royal duties on a daily basis. That’s Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex, and Prince Andrew all working as ‘full-time royals’ representing Her Majesty and Prince Philip every day. As a grandchild instead of a child of the Queen, it might not be considered William’s ‘turn’ yet to start doing full-time royal duties. Part-time duties as he’s been doing, yes. But not full-time. That means he has to do something for a living, and being in the military is the traditional career for male senior royals.

  • Greg Palermo

    I am somewhat confused, is Colonel of the Irish Guards a position (like a company commander which is held by a captain) or an actual rank (pay grade), I can’t see how he could go from Captain (O-3 pay grade) to Colonel (O-6 pay grade) which is three ranks higher and normally takes about 20 years to obtain?

    • Royal Central

      Being colonel (or perhaps more accurately ‘Colonel-in-Chief’) of a British Army regiment is an honorary rank, normally given to members of the Royal Family. It’s a ceremonial position and doesn’t mean the Colonel serves in the regiment per se.

      Hope this helps.


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