Prince William welcomes Queen to RAF Valley on Anglesey

Prince William shows The Queen one of the SeaKing rescue helicopters
Image caption Prince William showed The Queen one of the SeaKing rescue helicopters

Prince William has been telling his grandmother about his work as a helicopter search and rescue pilot.

The Queen was visiting the RAF Valley base on Anglesey, north Wales, where the prince has so far completed more than a dozen missions.

The Queen had to hang on to her hat as she was buffeted by winds of 45-50mph.

The visit comes four weeks before the prince marries Kate Middleton. It has been confirmed the bride will have a wedding ring of Welsh gold.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were given a personal tour of one of the helicopters he flies with the team he has described as his "family in the sky".

It the first time the royal couple have visited their grandson in his rescue pilot role.

The prince greeted the Queen with a "hello" and a kiss before adding: "I was worried your hat would blow off".

The prince has also revealed nerves at his impending wedding at London's Westminster Abbey on 29 April.

In an interview ahead of the visit, he admitted "the whole thing" of his wedding is already giving him sleepless nights.

He said: "I did a rehearsal the other day and my knees started tapping quite nervously, so it's a daunting prospect and very exciting but there's a lot of planning still to be done in the last four weeks."

He would not be drawn on the finer details of the stag do his brother, Prince Harry, organised recently, only crediting him with pulling off a "military operation" and saying he was pleased with how it went.

Prince William has spoken of his pride in his sometimes "hairy" work as a rescue pilot.

He said the demands of the job and the skills involved were immediately apparent to him on assuming duty.

"It definitely is advanced flying and it's rewarding - put the two together and it's a fantastic job.

"Everyday you come into work and don't know what's going to happen, it's quite exciting in that sense.

"It's unpredictable but at the same time, it's great to get to go out to save somebody's life hopefully or at least make a difference to someone and when you know that they are in trouble you do everything you can to try and get there."

He said he had always worked hard to prove he was in post on his own merits, rather than because of his royal status.

"I wouldn't want to be here for any other reason other than that I've proved myself and I can do the job," he said.

And he credited his colleagues with welcoming him into the ranks.

"I'm incredibly proud to be among the search and rescue guys and very privileged to be flying with some of the best pilots in the world," he said.

"It's a team effort and I've got here through help from everyone and we all help each other.


"With the team environment there is in the cockpit, it's very much a big family in the sky and the guys do a fantastic job."

But he said the technical demands of the job can make it "emotional" and "demanding" at times, especially when flying at night through the mountains of Snowdonia, when winds are high and visibility is poor.

And he joked: "It can get very hairy especially when you've got somebody like me at the controls."

The prince said he "loved" being on Anglesey where he is pretty much left alone "to knuckle down to the job" by the locals.

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