HRH The Duke of Edinburgh today passed his patronage of the Air Cadets to HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.
During an audience at Buckingham Palace, The Duke relinquished his role as Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief, bringing to an end his 63-year association with the Air Training Corps.
It is the Duchess’s first military linked appointment and she will represent an organisation of 42,000 air cadets aged 12-19 and 15,000 adult volunteers at more than 1,200 units across the UK and abroad.
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh took up his appointment following the death of founding patron King George VI, and maintained his royal patronage for several decades, frequently visiting cadets and showing a keen interest in their activities.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme was readily incorporated into the air cadet syllabus and for many years the ATC has been the largest awarding body of the Scheme, with hundreds of cadets and junior volunteers achieving the coveted gold award every year.
To mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s enduring commitment to the Air Training Corps he was presented with an engraved crystal vase bearing the 75th anniversary logo.
Air Commodore McCafferty said: “We will be forever grateful to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh for his outstanding commitment to the Air Training Corps over the decades.
“He is admired and respected by cadets and volunteers alike and we will miss his ready sense of humour and genuine interest in the development of the nation’s youth.”
To welcome her to her new role as Honorary Air Commandant of the Air Cadets, The Duchess was presented with a copy of Horizons, the history of the Air Cadets, which sets out the proud history and traditions of the organisation she will represent.
The Duchess of Cambridge has a close affiliation to the RAF following her husband’s service with the Search and Rescue Force.
The Duchess assumes her new role on the eve of the Air Training Corps’ 75th anniversary which will see cadets celebrate throughout 2016.
Air Commodore McCafferty said: “We are absolutely thrilled that HRH The Duchess of Cambridge has agreed to be our Patron.
“Her links to the RAF Family are already well established and her desire to support youth development is well recognised around the world.
“We hope that by acting as our Hon Air Commandant she can see at first hand the amazing work of our adult volunteers who deliver a truly world-class cadet experience to many thousands of young people.”
Cadet Sergeant Tommy Dade, 18, of 222 (Broadland) Squadron and Cadet Sergeant Bronwyn Jacobs, 18, of 863 (Thurston) Squadron were the two lucky cadets selected to attend the royal event.
Chosen for their sporting prowess, both cadets were selected as the top male and female sports cadets of the year.
Tommy is on the England Futsal Football Squad and has a scholarship with Norwich City Football Club.
Bronwyn is the ATC’s female 1500m winner and also English Schools’ cross country champion.
Tommy said: “It is sad to see HRH The Duke of Edinburgh retire from the role but he has supported us for over 60 years and we couldn’t ask for more.
“Having a new royal patron particularly someone as approachable and friendly as the Duchess is awesome.
“My fellow cadets will be so jealous that I met our new patron today and I hope many more cadets and staff get to meet her over the coming years.
“She will definitely raise our profile and, hopefully, help us recruit more volunteers so more young people get to experience cadet life.
“It is so much fun and I recommend it to any young person.”
Bronwyn said: “I feel privileged to be here to mark the end of an era with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and I am sure all cadets and staff join me in wishing him the very best for the future.
“We are very excited to welcome the Duchess as our new patron and I am sure she will do an excellent job in raising the profile of the Air Cadets especially during our 75th year and beyond.”