Moment Prince of Wales pilots RAF helicopter while becoming Colonel-in-Chief of 'snubbed' Harry's old regiment - in joint appearance with Charles

This is the moment a jubilant Prince William took to the skies in an Apache helicopter after being crowned the leader of his brother's former Army regiment by King Charles.

His Majesty declared his eldest son and heir Colonel-in-Chief of The Army Air Corps - the combat aviation arm of the British Army - at a ceremony at the Army Aviation Centre in Hampshire today.

After the event, the Prince of Wales departed the army base in the black helicopter as his new unit watched on.

The ceremony this afternoon was a landmark moment as it is King Charles's first joint engagement with Prince William since 2022.

Father and son laughed as Charles handed William an Army Air Corps beret and belt as the Prince of Wales took on his younger brother's former unit - the 662 Squadron.

The event fell on the day Prince Harry left Nigeria after a three-day pseudo-royal tour with his wife Meghan. 

In a speech in front of an Apache helicopter today, King Charles did not mention Harry, who flew the same aircraft in Afghanistan during two tours of duty. Instead he said William was a 'very good pilot indeed' - before sparking laughter by saying: 'So that's encouraging'.

Prince William and his father King Charles laugh today during the official handover

Prince William and his father King Charles laugh today during the official handover

King Charles III and Prince William stand in front of an Apache helicopter today

King Charles III and Prince William stand in front of an Apache helicopter today

The Prince of Wales speaks passionately during the official handover in which the King passes the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army air corps to his heir

The Prince of Wales speaks passionately during the official handover in which the King passes the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army air corps to his heir

King Charles III makes Prince William Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps today. William took on his younger brother's former unit - the 662 Squadron - just as Harry left Nigeria after a three-day tour with his wife Meghan

King Charles III makes Prince William Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps today. William took on his younger brother's former unit - the 662 Squadron - just as Harry left Nigeria after a three-day tour with his wife Meghan

Prince William, Prince of Wales, speaks to a serviceman as he sits in an Apache helicopter as he prepares to take off

Prince William, Prince of Wales, speaks to a serviceman as he sits in an Apache helicopter as he prepares to take off

Prince William, Prince of Wales walks with service personal at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop after becoming Colonel-in-Chief of The Army Air Corps

Prince William, Prince of Wales walks with service personal at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop after becoming Colonel-in-Chief of The Army Air Corps

Prince William pictured sitting inside an Apache helicopter this afternoon. Earlier he was made the leader of Prince Harry's former Army regiment by King Charles

Prince William pictured sitting inside an Apache helicopter this afternoon. Earlier he was made the leader of Prince Harry's former Army regiment by King Charles

The Prince of Wales pictured waiting for takeoff in the black helicopter at the Army Aviation Centre in Hampshire today

The Prince of Wales pictured waiting for takeoff in the black helicopter at the Army Aviation Centre in Hampshire today

The helicopter pictured taking off on the runway at the army centre as the royal's new unit watch on

The helicopter pictured taking off on the runway at the army centre as the royal's new unit watch on

The Apache pictured whisking William away from the base after he was made leader of his brother's old regiment

The Apache pictured whisking William away from the base after he was made leader of his brother's old regiment

The Duke of Sussex served with 662 Sqn as an Apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, and it was widely thought he would have taken the role until he made the decision to step back from royal life in 2020 and emigrate to the US.

The King said: 'I do hope you'll go from strength to strength with the Prince of Wales as your new Colonel-in-Chief. I can't tell you how proud it has made me to have been involved with you all this time'.

Prince William then donned his new uniform and blue beret before being handed an Army Air Corp tartan wrap for the Princess of Wales, a scarf for himself and three wooden helicopters for George, Charlotte and Louis.

The event was happening as the Sussexes landed at London Heathrow this afternoon on a British Airways flight from Abuja. The couple are expected to board a plane to Los Angeles so they can be reunited with Archie and Lilibet in Montecito late tonight or tomorrow.

Last week, Prince Harry spent three days in London to mark the ten-year anniversary of the Invictus Games - but was unable to meet with his father because of the King's packed diary.

It has reportedly led to briefing and counter-briefing on both sides about why their paths never crossed. One source close to the King redeployed the famous phrase coined by the Queen about Harry and Meghan after Megxit, that 'recollections may vary', after a Sussex source told The Sunday Times: 'I was fully expecting them to meet. I know that's what he [Harry] wanted to happen'.

It came as King Charles today revealed he has lost his sense of taste during his ongoing cancer treatment.

The Prince of Wales speaks with service personnel after donning his uniform and new blue beret

The Prince of Wales speaks with service personnel after donning his uniform and new blue beret

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Prince William, Prince of Wales prepares for boarding

Prince William, Prince of Wales prepares for boarding

William reads instructions before departing the base on an Apache capability flight

William reads instructions before departing the base on an Apache capability flight

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Charles and William at the Army Aviation Centre for the rare joint ceremony

Charles and William at the Army Aviation Centre for the rare joint ceremony

Charles and William were at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, today

Charles and William were at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, today

Kensington Palace put out this tweet to mark the occasion today

Kensington Palace put out this tweet to mark the occasion today

A younger Prince Harry in front of an Apache he flew in Afghanistan

A younger Prince Harry in front of an Apache he flew in Afghanistan

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in Lagos yesterday. The couple landed at Heathrow this afternoon on their way home to the US

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in Lagos yesterday. The couple landed at Heathrow this afternoon on their way home to the US

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Harry needed to give 28 days' warning to the King and the Home Office to request security arrangements for his stay, which began last Tuesday and ended on Friday when he met Meghan at Heathrow and flew to Nigeria.

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Palace announces joint engagement between the King and Prince William next week - just hours after it emerged monarch would NOT meet with Harry during his whistle-stop UK visit because of his 'full programme'

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The Sunday Times spoke to people close to the Sussexes who said Harry's London visit was 'long on the radar' for the Palace.

'I can't imagine that request [from the Duke] fell through the gaps. Even if they didn't get a request, which I don't believe, could His Majesty not have made a request to see his son? It was widely known he was coming', one insider said.

Another source told the newspaper: 'It surprises me a lot. I was fully expecting them to meet. I know that's what he wanted to happen and I don't know when he's next back.'

But friends of the King have questioned the analysis from the Sussex camp, using the famous phrase coined by the Queen about the Sussexes, that 'recollections may vary'.

'While it is true that the King is understandably wary about meeting with Harry, given the publicity circus that seems to surround all such visits, he did of course agree to see his son at the most vulnerable moment of his illness and at very short notice,' a source said.

Charles arrives by helicopter at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, today

Charles arrives by helicopter at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, today

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Charles and William at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, this afternoon

Charles and William at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, this afternoon

Charles and William smile during the ceremony

Charles and William smile during the ceremony

Britain's King Charles III speaks as he stands by helicopters at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire

Britain's King Charles III speaks as he stands by helicopters at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire

King Charles III meets staff members and their families at the Army Aviation Centre today

King Charles III meets staff members and their families at the Army Aviation Centre today

King Charles III arrives at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, today

Britain's Prince William speaks to service personal at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop

Britain's Prince William speaks to service personal at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop

William slipped into uniform after Charles III officially handed over the role of Colonel-in-Chief to him

William slipped into uniform after Charles III officially handed over the role of Colonel-in-Chief to him

'While he was hardly going to roll out the red carpet the moment this Invictus trip was announced, with doctors advising him to focus on his treatment and recovery, the idea that he refused to find space in his diarywell, let's say recollections may vary once again.'

As well as the row over why Harry and Charles failed to meet, there will have been further salt in the wound because today's engagement with the King and William was being confirmed while Harry was in the UK.

The King's decision to hand the role to William has been seen as a blow to Harry when it was announced last year.

The King said it was a 'great joy' to meet servicemen, their families and veterans at an earlier visit to the Army Flying Museum but added the handover was 'tinged with great sadness'.

He said: 'I do hope you'll go from strength to strength in the future with the Prince of Wales as your new Colonel-in-Chief.

'The great thing is he's a very good pilot indeed - so that's encouraging.'

He unveiled a plaque commemorating an Apache AH Mk.1 going on display, the first of its kind to be installed at a UK museum.

The aircraft was one of four involved in a rescue mission during the Battle of Jugroom Fort in 2007.

The King said: 'Let me just say what a great joy it is to be with you even briefly on this occasion but also it is tinged with great sadness after 32 years of knowing you all, admiring your many activities and achievements through the time that I've been lucky enough to be Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps.'

General Nick Barton, who took part in the rescue operation, said it was a 'unique honour' to meet the King who served as an important 'figurehead' for the soldiers.

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King Charles will today meet Prince William at a special ceremony where he will hand over command to his heir of Prince Harry's former regiment (Pictured here in Sandringham on Christmas Day 2023)

King Charles will today meet Prince William at a special ceremony where he will hand over command to his heir of Prince Harry's former regiment (Pictured here in Sandringham on Christmas Day 2023)

It comes on the same day the estranged Duke of Sussex will jet back from his 'quasi-royal' tour in Nigeria with his wife Meghan Markle

It comes on the same day the estranged Duke of Sussex will jet back from his 'quasi-royal' tour in Nigeria with his wife Meghan Markle

King Charles spoke to one veteran who had recently undergone chemotherapy for testicular cancer, discussing losing the sense of taste as a result of the treatment.

Prince William embarked on his first engagement with the Army Air Corps after the King left, receiving a briefing on its work and inspecting training and operational aircraft as well as talking to soldiers.

He was presented with gifts on behalf of the corps - a tartan scarf for the prince, a wrap for his wife Kate and three wooden helicopter models for each of the couple's children.

He will later leave the base in an Apache as part of a capability flight.

Kensington Palace posted two images of the prince during his military service on X, showing a young William in 1998 and 2009 - standing next to a helicopter in one picture and smiling at the controls in another.

'Time flies!' the caption read.

The rare joint engagement for Charles and William comes on the same day the estranged Harry is jetting back from his 'quasi-royal' tour in Nigeria with his wife Meghan Markle.

The Sussexes will head back to their Montecito mansion in California following their 'rock star' tour.

Buckingham Palace announced last week that the King would have a joint engagement with William to pass on the role he held for 31 years to his eldest son.

Charles announced in August last year that William would be appointed as Colonel-in-Chief, while also granting the Princess of Wales three new roles.

A royal spokesperson said: 'At the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, His Majesty The King will officially hand over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

'In August 2023, following His Majesty's Accession, The King was pleased to announce military appointments including that The Prince of Wales would become Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps.

'The role was previously held by His Majesty The King, as Prince of Wales, for 31 years.'

It came just two hours after Harry's spokesman said the King was too busy to see his youngest son during his whistlestop trip to the UK to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Invictus Games.

The Duke of Sussex was in London for three days last week but# due to the King's busy schedule was unable to meet his father.

Harry's spokesperson confirmed that it was 'unfortunately not possible' for the pair to meet 'due to His Majesty's full programme', as he returns to public duties after undergoing treatment for cancer.

Following much speculation over whether the Duke would pop in to visit his father, who he last saw in February following his shocking diagnosis, Harry's spokesperson confirmed there was no time for a reunion.

William previously spent three years at the base on Anglesey, taking part in 156 search and rescue missions and saving 149 people. Pictured: The then-Duke of Cambridge at RAF Valley in Anglesey in 2012

William previously spent three years at the base on Anglesey, taking part in 156 search and rescue missions and saving 149 people. Pictured: The then-Duke of Cambridge at RAF Valley in Anglesey in 2012

Prince William And Prince Harry at Raf Shawbury, Shrewsbury in 2009

Prince William And Prince Harry at Raf Shawbury, Shrewsbury in 2009

The Prince and Princess of Wales have both been given three new military appointments each by King Charles. Pictured: William and Kate on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the RAF centenary

The Prince and Princess of Wales have both been given three new military appointments each by King Charles. Pictured: William and Kate on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the RAF centenary

William is taking over as Colonel-in-Chief of The Army Air Corps, which would give him command over Harry's former unit, 662 Squadron. Pictured: Prince Harry at the Founder's Day Parade at Royal Hospital Chelsea in 2019

William is taking over as Colonel-in-Chief of The Army Air Corps, which would give him command over Harry's former unit, 662 Squadron. Pictured: Prince Harry at the Founder's Day Parade at Royal Hospital Chelsea in 2019

One royal commentator has claimed Prince Harry could have been in line for the role of Colonel-in-Chief of The Army Air Corps before quitting as a working royal. Pictured: Harry in his apache helicopter in Afghanistan in 2012

One royal commentator has claimed Prince Harry could have been in line for the role of Colonel-in-Chief of The Army Air Corps before quitting as a working royal. Pictured: Harry in his apache helicopter in Afghanistan in 2012

'In response to the many inquiries and continued speculation on whether or not The Duke will meet with his father while in the UK this week, it unfortunately will not be possible due to His Majesty's full programme,' he said.

'The Duke of course is understanding of his father's diary of commitments and various other priorities and hopes to see him soon.'

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'Timing is everything': Raised eyebrows as Buckingham Palace reveals Charles will make William Colonel in Chief of Prince Harry's old regiment at joint ceremony next week - hours after King said he was too busy to see Duke during his UK Invictus visit

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Last night, Harry and Meghan completed the last leg of the tour of Nigeria with a trip to Lagos.

The couple, visiting Nigeria together for the first time, stood on a red carpet and applauded and gasped as they were greeted with a traditional dance.

In scenes reminiscent of a presidential visit, their fourteen car convoy - complete with machine guns mounted on trucks - swept from the airport to a basketball court where they met children from a local school.

They were then guests of honour at the State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu's house, before rounded off the three-day tour by attending a charity polo match.

The Sussexes visited Nigeria as part of a promotion of Harry's Invictus Games, the sporting event he founded for wounded military veterans.

The couple arrived last Friday in the capital Abuja where they visited a school to open an event on mental health for students there in a trip that also saw the prince meet wounded Nigerian soldiers.

One royal commentator claimed last August Harry himself could have been in line for the role as Colonel-in-Chief.

Harry and Mgehan attending the polo fundraiser event in Lagos yesterday while on their tour of Nigeria

Harry and Mgehan attending the polo fundraiser event in Lagos yesterday while on their tour of Nigeria

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There were several large photographs of Harry and Meghan on show

There were several large photographs of Harry and Meghan on show

Meghan ditched her neutral style in favour of a vibrant red dress in order to 'fit in' with Nigeria 's 'incredible fashion'

Meghan ditched her neutral style in favour of a vibrant red dress in order to 'fit in' with Nigeria 's 'incredible fashion'

Mr Sanwo-Olu presented Harry and Meghan with a statue of an Eyo masquerade - which represents the spirits of the dead

Mr Sanwo-Olu presented Harry and Meghan with a statue of an Eyo masquerade - which represents the spirits of the dead

Meghan appeared to be wearing an outfit made of aso oke - a hand-woven cloth from south-west Nigeria - which she had been gifted at a lavish lunch when the couple arrived in Lagos

Meghan appeared to be wearing an outfit made of aso oke - a hand-woven cloth from south-west Nigeria - which she had been gifted at a lavish lunch when the couple arrived in Lagos

Harry and Meghan were swept from the airport to a basketball court where they met children from a local school

Harry and Meghan were swept from the airport to a basketball court where they met children from a local school

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Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, told the Mirror it was 'quite feasible' that if he hadn't quit life as a working royal - something that saw him stripped of his honorary military appointments - he might have been given the title.

He said: 'Had Harry still been around he might well have had more appointments going his way.'

William has also become the Royal Honorary Air Commodore at RAF Valley in Wales - he previously spent three years at the base on Anglesey, taking part in 156 search and rescue missions and saving 149 people.

The Prince belonged to the RAF's 202 Squadron with colleagues regarding him as an outstanding pilot and as 'one of the family'.

Though search and rescue operations were privatised in 2016, RAF Valley remains a training facility for fast jet pilots and crews.

He has also added Colonel-in-Chief of The Mercian Regiment to his growing list of military commitments.

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