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William reunited with flying instructor on ‘nostalgic’ return to RAF base

The Prince of Wales served at RAF Valley in North Wales for three years.

Prince of The Prince of Wales stands in front of an aircraft at RAF Valleyvisit to Anglesey

The Prince of Wales has been reunited with his flying instructor on a nostalgic visit to his former air base.

William was greeted by “typical Anglesey weather” when he arrived amid wind and rain at RAF Valley in North Wales at about midday on Tuesday.

The prince, who served at the base for three years, became Royal Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Valley last August after taking over the role from the King.

The Prince of Wales walks with an RAF officer on the tarmac
William arrives at RAF Valley in Anglesey (Chris Jackson/PA)

After his umbrella blew inside out when he arrived on Tuesday, he told crews: “It wouldn’t feel like home if I wasn’t back here on a day like this.”

Rain had cleared by the time he visited the air traffic control tower, giving him a view of the Llyn Peninsula, and he said: “It’s a bit of nostalgia for me.”

The prince and the Princess of Wales, who is undergoing cancer treatment, lived together on Anglesey as newlyweds when he served as an RAF search and rescue pilot at the base from 2010 to 2013.

William chatted with instructors, trainees and engineers over a cup of tea, which he drank from a Prince of Wales mug, and met his former flying instructor Captain Brian Wills.

Capt Wills said: “It was great, really nice to see him. The last time I saw him was 2009.

“I get asked a lot how was it training him and what extra privileges did he have, but I treated him like anybody else.

William talks with children holding Welsh flags
William meets members of the public at the air base (Chris Jackson/PA)

“He did everything exactly as anybody else would have done.”

He said the prince had stayed in touch, sending a bottle of whisky and a birthday card when he turned 50 two years ago.

He added: “It was very nice to catch up.”

During the visit, William joined fire crews in a simulation exercise, operating a hose from inside a fire engine to put out flames on an “iron hawk” jet, used for the practice drills.

Speaking to firefighters afterwards, he said: “It was good fun.”

He joked he had been “trying to get the media with the hose” but the crew with him were “very well-behaved”.

William presented the Prince of Wales award for the best qualified flying instructor to Flight Lieutenant Jake Fleming, and met the response team from the RAF Mountain Rescue Service (MRS).

Prince of Wales visit to Anglesey
William talks RAF Mountain Rescue Service personnel (Chris Jackson/PA)

Corporal Rachel Varney said: “He was asking what had changed over the years with the kit, because a lot of it will be different to what he used.

“He was lovely to speak to and he understands it because he’s worked with us before.”

William was waved off by families stationed on the base, who held Welsh flags.

Rita Millan, who has worked in the Thrift Shop on the base for 20 years, said she had welcomed him back.

She said: “We used to see him all the time time passing in his car and he used to wave.

“He said he loved coming back to visit us.

“I said to him I hope Catherine is on the mend and we’re praying for her and to send her our love. He said he would tell her.”

Her colleague Denise Stock added: “He said he misses it here.”

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