One year after welcoming a new son, Britain’s Prince William has landed a new job: air ambulance helicopter pilot.
“The Duke is greatly excited by this opportunity,” a Palace spokesperson said in a statement. “EAAA does some truly outstanding work, and The Duke wanted to make his own contribution to it."
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Prince William will begin a five-month training period for his Air Transport Pilot’s license in September, the Palace said. The process consists of 14 exams and a flight test.
As a pilot with the nonprofit East Anglian Air Ambulance, William will join a crew, “called to an average of four incidents per day,” including, “life threatening situations such as road traffic accidents and medical emergencies,” according to the unit’s website.
Prince William will start his position as a co-pilot but graduate to a helicopter commander role once he is qualified.
“It’s a vital service and it performs life-saving work and we’re very pleased His Highness has agreed to fly with our charity,” said Patrick Peal, chief executive of the 365 day-a-year lifesaving service.
Kensington Palace said that William will be based at Cambridge and Norwich Airports and work both day and night shifts, flying missions in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Bedfordshire.
The job will build on the operational experience William gained in the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue force, which he served from 2009 until September 2013. The Duke of Cambridge served as a fully operational pilot on the Sea King Helicopter, flying over 1300 hours, first as Flight Lieutenant Wales and then Captain in June 2012. During his time at RAF Valley in Anglesey, William flew more than 150 search and rescue operations.
His previous training included Basic and Advanced Flying training on the Squirrel helicopter at RAF Shawbury. He then proceeded to the Multi-Engine Advanced Rotary Wing course on Griffin and Squirrel helicopters.
William will sign an employment contract with Bond Air Services, which operates the Air Ambulance service. He is believed to be the first member of the Royal family in the direct line of succession to have a civilian contract.
"He regards his work with the RAF Search and Rescue Force as having been an exceptional privilege, and is hugely motivated by the idea of being able to continue to help people in difficult and challenging situations," the Palace spokesman said.
The news of Prince William’s new job comes just a few weeks after he and Kate, also 32, celebrated the first birthday of their first child, Prince George. Kensington Palace released new photos of the growing prince walking to mark the occasion.
The young family is no doubt likely to spend more time at their Norfolk manor house, Anmer Hall, a gift from the Queen for William’s 30th birthday.
Kate is reportedly busy decorating Anmer Hall to make it a home fit for two future Kings. The 10-bedroom mansion is based on the Queen’s 20,000 acre private Sandringham estate in Norfolk, quite close to the East Anglian Air Ambulance service.
The home is in the final stages of a two-year renovation, including a large conservatory for the family. It already includes a pool and tennis court and renovations are said to have reportedly added accommodations for protection officers and Prince George’s nanny.
Duchess Kate has been spotted browsing in the local shops and even reportedly bargaining for a few items among the antique dealers nearby the home.
Sandringham is a special place for William and his younger brother, Prince Harry. Besides spending Christmas with the Royal family each year, the brothers spent their childhood frolicking on the beach nearby. Some of their closest friends and family are still in Norfolk. Princess Diana’s sister Lady Fellowes lives in Norfolk with her husband Lord Robert Fellowes who was The Queen’s highest aide serving as Private Secretary from 1990-1999. Hugh Van Cutsem, a childhood friend of William and Harry is godfather to Prince George and lives in Norfolk. His curly haired daughter, Grace, stole the show as William and Kate’s flower girl at their wedding covering her ears. She is also William’s goddaughter.
The Van Cutsems are wealthy landowners and bankers whose father was also one of Prince Charles', the Prince of Wales, closest friends from Cambridge. The Van Cutsems rented Anmer Hall for 10 years before it was gifted to Prince William on his 30th birthday and William and Harry spent many years in the countryside hunting, riding and playing with the Van Cutsem sons.
It is believed that William and Kate relished the privacy they enjoyed while William served as a helicopter pilot in Anglesey and believe that this will be a good place to raise a family. Kensington Palace will remain their official home.
It is expected that Prince George will attend school somewhere in West London, like his father and uncle did. Both William and Harry attended nursery school at the Wetherby school in Notting Hill, London.
The newly announced role will become William’s primary occupation, "but his roster will take into account the duties and responsibilities he will continue to undertake on behalf of The Queen, both in the United Kingdom and overseas," his spokesman said in a statement.