Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Prince William and Kate Middleton make first public appearance since Prince Philip's funeral

The Cambridges paid tribute to the Duke

cambridges air cadets east ham
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
Updated: April 21, 2021
Share this:
cambridges visit east ham air cadets© Photo: Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stepped out for their first joint public engagement following the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral.

And it was a fitting outing, as Prince William and Kate visited 282 (East Ham) Squadron, Air Training Corps in East London to hear more about how the Air Cadets support young people to develop life skills.

Prince Philip served as Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps for 63 years, and in 2015, he passed the military patronage to Kate, who became Honorary Air Commandant.

At the end of their visit, the Squadron took part in a Three Cheers Salute in honour of the Duke of Edinburgh, with a rousing "hip, hip, hooray". 

READ: The Queen thanks public for their kindness following Prince Philip's death – see statement

WATCH: Kate sits in a flight simulator during an Air Training Corps visit

kate philip 2015 air cadets© Photo: Getty Images

The Duchess of Cambridge pictured with the Duke of Edinburgh in 2015, when she took over the role as Honorary Air Commandant.

MORE: Prince William and Kate pay tribute to the Queen on her birthday

Keep clicking for more photos...

kate flight simulator© Photo: Getty Images

The Duchess of Cambridge showed off her aerial skills in a flight simulator as her husband was left holding her handbag.

William, who learnt to fly with the RAF and piloted the service's search and rescue helicopters, watched as Kate took the controls of the light aircraft simulator during the visit. 

Group Captain Al Lewis said of the visit: "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. 

"It was wonderful for them, too, to see the real legacy that the Duke of Edinburgh left.

"I spoke to the Duke [of Cambridge] 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'."

MORE: Kate Middleton's grandfather crossed paths with Prince Philip in the sixties - see photo

william kate© Photo: Getty Images

As a mark of respect, William donned a dark suit, while wife Kate wore a black military-style coat.

A mourning period of two weeks is currently being observed by the royal family following the Duke's death at the age of 99 on 9 April. 

MORE: Kate Middleton glows in Dolce & Gabbana military coat and seriously glossy hair

cambridges watch drills© Photo: Getty Images

During the visit to 282 Squadron, William and Kate met cadets taking part in field craft exercises and leadership tasks, before speaking to a number of the young people who are preparing for their Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

Each year, the Air Cadets receives 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.  

William, who served in the RAF himself, was asked by Cadet Sergeant Roberto Afrasinei, 13, a cadet for three years, if he wanted to try on some of their kit. 

"Maybe not today. I've got enough webbing at home," joked William, who was wearing a black tie with his jacket and chinos.

MORE: Kate Middleton sports the Queen's meaningful earrings at Prince Philip's funeral

william kate meet cadets east ham© Photo: Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess also heard more about the Air Cadets' 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.  

MORE: Prince Charles and Camilla share touching birthday tribute to the Queen

cambridges meet cadets© Photo: Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess chatted 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.  

MORE: Kate Middleton had a special connection to Prince Philip long before royal wedding

More Royalty

See more