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The Prince of Wales and The Duchess
of Cornwall

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Prince Harry


Military Career

  • The Prince of Wales was in command of HMS Bronington
  • The Prince of Wales serving in the Navy
  • The Prince of Wales shows his mother The Queen around HMS Bronington
  • The Prince is now an Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy

On 16th June 2012, Her Majesty The Queen appointed The Prince of Wales honorary five-star rank in all three services. The appointment recognises the dedicated support of His Royal Highness to The Queen in her role as Commander-in-Chief.

The Prince of Wales is Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

His Royal Highness began his career in the Armed Services in March 1971, when he started a four-month attachment with the Royal Air Force at Cranwell, Lincolnshire.

The Prince had already gained his private pilot's licence, and flew himself to Cranwell on 8th March, in a twin-engined Basset of The Queen's Flight, to start advanced training to qualify as a jet pilot.

Flight Lieutenant The Prince of Wales was awarded his RAF wings at Cranwell on 20th August 1971.

On 15th September, The Prince joined the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, under the graduate entry scheme, as Acting Sub-Lieutenant. The Duke of Edinburgh, and his great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, had both been at Dartmouth.

Nearly two months later The Prince flew in a troop-carrying RAF Britannia to join the destroyer HMS Norfolk at Gibraltar. While training for his bridge watch-keeping certificate, The Prince attended a one-day course in escaping from a submarine, at HMS Dolphin, Gosport.

This included an exercise during which he was released from a chamber 100ft below the surface of a water tank. In February 1972, The Prince attended a one-day course in the submarine HMS Churchill.

During the next two and a half years, The Prince attended a four-month course at Portsmouth and served on four more ships. A 1974 Pacific voyage on the frigate HMS Jupiter included calls at Singapore, New Zealand, Tonga, Western Samoa, Honolulu, San Francisco, Acapulco and Bermuda. On 1st May 1973, The Prince of Wales was promoted to Acting Lieutenant.

On 2nd September 1974 The Prince joined the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton for helicopter flying training before being assigned to 845 Naval Air Squadron as a pilot on board the commando carrier HMS Hermes.

Following a lieutenant's course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, The Prince was given command of his own ship, the minehunter HMS Bronington, for the final ten months of his active service in the Royal Navy ending on 15th December 1976.

The following January he was promoted to the rank of Commander. He was promoted again on his 40th birthday in 1988, to Captain in the Royal Navy and Group Captain in the Royal Air Force.

On 14th November 1998, the Ministry of Defence announced that The Prince of Wales had been promoted to "2-star" Rank in all three Services of the Armed Forces to coincide with his 50th birthday.

His Royal Highness was again promoted in all three Services on his 54th birthday in 2002 becoming Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy, Air Marshal in the Royal Air Force and Lieutenant General in the Army.

In 2006, The Prince was promoted to Admiral in the Royal Navy, General in the Army and Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Air Force.

The Prince of Wales holds honorary rank and appointments in many branches and regiments of the Armed Services.

On being appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment, a few months before he was 30, The Prince asked to take part in the parachute training course.

The Prince felt he could not "look them in the eye" or wear the Parachute Regiment's famous beret and wings badge unless he had done the course, he told his biographer, Jonathan Dimbleby, 15 years later.

"I felt I should lead from the front or at least be able to do some of the things that one expects others to do for the country," said The Prince.

The Prince of Wales was made Admiral of the Royal Navy in 2006.

By the time he left in 1977, His Royal Highness had completed more than five years active service in the Royal Navy.

By joining The Royal Navy, His Royal Highness was following in the footsteps of his father, The Duke of Edinburgh, grandfather, King George VI and two great-grandfathers. The Prince joined the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in September 1971 and nearly two months later left to join his first ship.

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