Today, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited RAF Air Cadets’ 282 East Ham Squadron in East London to meet with the young cadets learning skills and qualifications across a variety of different disciplines of RAF. They met with the Cadets who are being supported by the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
This was The Duchess of Cambridge’s first public engagement of the month apart from April 17 when she joined the Royal Family to bid farewell to Prince Philip. The Royal family is still officially in the mourning period. The visit was a tribute to the Iron Duke who died at the age of 99 earlier this month. Philip served as the Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps for 63 years.
In 2015, he passed the Military patronage to The Duchess of Cambridge who became the Honorary Air Commandant. Catherine’s Grandfather served in the World Wars. Her paternal grandfather, Peter, accompanied the Duke of Edinburgh during his royal flying tour of South America in 1962.
The visit also marked the 95th birthday of Her Majesty The Queen. In almost 74 years, this was the first time when Queen Elizabeth II was not celebrating her birthday with her husband. Releasing a statement, Her Majesty thanked those who shared their stories and paid tribute to Prince Philip,
“While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world”.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with the cadets and learned about their experience and the learning technologies being used. They heard how the Air Cadets support young people to develop vital life skills.
Established in 1941, the Air Cadets is a UK-wide cadet force with more than 32,000 members aged between 12-19 years old. Sponsored by the Royal Air Force, the Air Cadets provides hands-on experience that ‘challenge and develop skills amongst young people to help them succeed, encourage the spirit of adventure and develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship.
282 (East Ham) Squadron supports more than 60 cadets to gain skills and qualifications across a variety of different disciplines from aviation, cyber, and radio communications to adventure training, music, First Aid, and air experience flying, gliding, and a space syllabus. The Squadron has also taken part in a number of international trips to undertake projects such as refurbishing schools, rainforest conservation, and teaching English classes.
The Duke and Duchess also spoke with a group of serving RAF officers who were all previously cadets and heard more about how taking part in the Air Cadets and its core activities, including The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, allowed them to gain important life and social skills which they have taken forward into their careers.
The Duchess of Cambridge herself finished the Duke of Edinburgh award competition and was awarded the medal by the Duke himself when she was studying at Marlborough College. Each year, the Air Cadets receive approximately 3,000 Duke of Edinburgh Awards across the scheme’s Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels, amounting to over 193,000 Awards since the programme began in 1956. The Air Cadets’ offer a Pre-Duke of Edinburgh’s Award ‘Blue Badge’ scheme which is aimed at cadets aged 12-14 years old, and allows them to begin to develop their skills and engage in activities before they are of age to take part in the Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels.
The Duchess of Cambridge tried her hand at the flight simulator while William candidly holds her handbag.
The visit ended with a hearty tribute to the late Prince Philip with three hip-hip-hooray. Talking about the visit the Group Captain Al Lewis said (From Daily Mail’s report),
It was a really unique experience and the cadets only found out an hour before they arrived. Given that we haven’t had much activity over the last years it was a real morale boost. ‘I was wonderful for them, too, to see the real legacy that the Duke of Edinburgh left.
I spoke to the Duke about whether he was still flying and he said he was very keen to try to keep his flying hours up. He clearly misses flying professionally. It was interesting to see the Duchess get in the simulator instead of him. She did very well. He was goading her to say ‘well it’s not as easy as it seems.
The Coat was described as, “Dolce & Gabbana black wool and silk-blend double-breasted button-down coat with a collarless design, round neckline, buttonhole on the front, front flap pockets, long sleeves, pleated waist, a mid-calf length and a straight hem.”
Catherine paired the coat with her Tod’s Suede block heel pumps.
She was carrying her Mulberry Bayswater suede clutch.
And finished the look with The Queen’s Pearl earrings.