King Charles Appoints Prince William to Military Role Linked to Prince Harry in Controversial Move

The Prince of Wales is now the Colonel-in-Chief of his brother Prince Harry’s former regiment

King Charles III and Prince William, Prince of Wales during the official handover in which King Charles III passes the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army air corps to Prince William, Prince of Wales at the Army Aviation Centre

King Charles has appointed Prince William to a military position with close ties to Prince Harry.

On Monday, May 13, King Charles bestowed the title of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps upon his eldest son in a military ceremony at the Army Aviation Centre in Hampshire. In his new role, William, 41, is now the leader of his brother Prince Harry’s former regiment. Harry, 39, trained as an Army Air Corps pilot in 2009, before serving with the Corps during his second tour in Afghanistan up until 2014.

The appointment has sparked controversy as the title was widely thought to have been intended for Harry. The timing of the ceremony announcement, made last week, also raised eyebrows, coinciding with Harry’s return to the U.K. for a brief visit to attend the Invictus Games Foundation’s 10th-anniversary celebration at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on May 8.

PEOPLE understands Harry extended invites to his father, brother and sister-in-law Kate Middleton. However, none of the senior members of the royal family attended the celebration.

King Charles III and Prince William, Prince of Wales during the official handover in which King Charles III passes the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army air corps to Prince William, Prince of Wales at the Army Aviation Centre

Princess Kate, 42, has not returned to royal duties after announcing her cancer diagnosis, and is still undergoing treatments. Meanwhile, William conducted investitures at Windsor Castle on the day of the service. A few miles away, Charles and Queen Camilla hosted the first garden party of the season at Buckingham Palace.

A spokesperson for the Duke of Sussex previously confirmed the prince would not see his father during his time in the U.K. “In response to the many inquiries and continued speculation on whether or not The Duke will meet with his father while in the U.K. this week, it unfortunately will not be possible due to His Majesty’s full program,” the spokesperson said. “The Duke of course is understanding of his father’s diary of commitments and various other priorities and hopes to see him soon.”

King Charles III arrives at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, England, Monday, May 13, 2024.

King Charles first announced the Prince of Wales’ appointment in August 2023. In addition to being named Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps, he was also bestowed the titles of chief of RAF Valley (his old unit from his time in service) and Colonel-in-Chief of The Mercian Regiment.

“I did just want to say what a great joy it is to be with you even briefly on this occasion,” King Charles said in a brief speech on May 13, according to Hello! magazine. “But also tinged with great sadness after 32 years of knowing you all and admiring all your many activities and your achievements throughout the time, I’ve been lucky enough to be Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps.”

“So all I can say is that having had the pleasure of knowing you for so long, I do hope you’ll go from strength to strength in the future with the Prince of Wales as your new Colonel-in-Chief,” he continued, proceeding to praise Prince William’s aerial skills.

King Charles III speaks as he stands by helicopters at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, England, Monday, May 13, 2024
King Charles at the Army Aviation Centre on May 13.AP PHOTO/KIN CHEUNG 

“The great thing is he’s a very good pilot indeed so that’s encouraging. So ladies and gentlemen, look after yourselves and, and, and I can’t tell you how proud it has made me to be involved with you all this time,” the sovereign said.

On Monday, Charles met William in front of an Apache helicopter, where he officially passed the title over to his son. After the ceremony, Charles and William met with serving aircrew in front of the aircraft.

Charles then departed the event, leaving the prince to carry out his first engagement as the Army Air Corps’ Colonel-in-Chief. William received a briefing from Lieutenant General Borton before meeting with soldiers in the regiment. He concluded his day by departing in an Apache capability flight to give him a better understanding of the equipment, as well as the people who operate it.

King Charles III and the Prince of Wales arrive for a visit to the Army Aviation Centre at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, for the King to officially hand over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to William
The King and Prince William appeared in pleasant spirits at the ceremony.BEN BIRCHALL/PA IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGES 

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Both Harry and William are trained military pilots, but while Harry served with the Army Air Corps, the Prince of Wales served as a search and rescue pilot for three years.

Following his brief visit to the U.K., Harry and Meghan Markle headed to Nigeria for their first visit to the country. The couple arrived on May 10, and began their tour by visiting a local school in Nigeri called the Lightway Academy.

Prince William, Prince of Wales speaks to service personal at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop
Prince William at the Army Aviation Centre on May 13.KIN CHEUNG – WPA POOL/GETTY IMAGES 

During their visit to the school, Meghan, 42, expressed how proud she is of Harry after he gave a speech on mental health to the children in the school.

“You see why I’m married to him?” Meghan said to the students and faculty. “It’s so inspiring because he speaks the truth.”

Meghan and Harry’s trip to Nigeria marks their first international tour since stepping away from their royal duties in 2020. The couple were invited to visit the country by its Chief of Defense Staff, the highest-ranking military official.

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