Prince Harry revisited the home of Army aviation on Friday to present graduates with their wings and publicly raise the issue of cuts to Ministry Defence budgets.
Prince Harry flew Apache helicopters during his service in the Army, and on his visit, he was treated to a display by Apache aircraft pilots after rewarding Army Air Corps with their Wings.
Sergeant Ryan Nelson from County Durham was awarded two prizes at the graduation and spoke about Prince Harry: “He’s really normal, a really down to earth guy, he doesn’t think of himself as anything special.
“He was firing away little nuggets, little tips on how we could better ourselves as a pilot.”
It was the last Wings parade to be held in Middle Wallop, with the famous ceremony moving to a new home in Shawbury.
Prince Harry was presented with his Wings back in 2010 by his father the Prince of Wales, the Army Air Corps Colonel Chief. In 2013, he qualified as an Apache helicopter commander, with his own commanding officer saying he passed with “flying colours”.
Recently, there has been widespread speculation about further cuts to personnel and equipment due to major pressure on the defence budget. During his visit, Prince Harry urged a dozen pilots from the Army Air Corps: “You’re now going to end up flying some of the best aircraft that we have to offer.
“In certain areas, the budgets are being shrunk, but essentially you guys are the assets, the aircraft is the asset and just don’t forget who you’re serving and who you’re supporting.”
To fund saving in the defence budget, plans included cutting 11,000 personnel from the Army and as many as 100 helicopters. In January, these plans were reportedly put on hold.
For the ceremony on Friday, Prince Harry was wearing three medals pinned to his chest, including the Operation Herrick medal for his service in Afghanistan.