The Princess of Wales, 41, visited the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton in Somerset on Monday, marking the first outing in her new royal role. Over the summer, King Charles appointed his daughter-in-law as the Commodore-in-Chief, Fleet Air Arm (FAA). She took over the role from Prince Andrew, who held the position until 2022.
The airbase, which is one of the busiest military airfields in the U.K., is home to a number of frontline squadrons and training units. During her visit, Kate took part in training on a helicopter flight simulator and tried out some survival equipment.
Princess Kate toured the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower, where she met staff and viewed the aircraft operating on the airfield, and spoke with an airborne Wildcat helicopter crew.
She then headed to a hangar to see aircrew and other personnel including the Royal Navy Survival Equipment (SE) Technicians who provide support to aircrew including flotation equipment, helmets and clothing. The technicians led her in some training exercises with the technicians.
Her children — Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5 — are bound to be envious when they hear that she was shown around Merlin MK4 helicopter, which the Royal Marine Commandos use around the world to provide disaster relief.
The crews also displayed how another model, the Merlin MK2, is used as an Anti-Submarine Warfare platform to track submarines, supporting disaster relief operations and providing training for the next generation of engineers and aircrew.
Finally, Kate headed to the Wildcat Training Centre to meet the loading team who are trained to fit a variety of weapons to the Wildcat MK2 helicopter. Following this, The Princess will have the opportunity to fly a Wildcat MK2 in a simulator which allows aircrew to practice flying over land or on to ships.
Over the summer, Princess Kate and Prince William had a family fun day out at another airbase, spending the day at the world's largest military air show, the Royal International Air Tattoo at Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford in Gloucestershire, England. They brought along George, Charlotte and Louis to see some planes and view helicopters.
Kate connected with cadets during the visit and stopped by the Techno Zone, which aims to inspire young people to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math and consider careers in engineering, aviation and aerospace. She also met winners of Road to RIAT, a year-long competition that challenged students from 300 schools across the U.K. to design a sustainable aircraft for the future of the RAF.
Princess Kate's outing came as her husband started his two-day visit to New York City.
It will also be a quick trip to the Big Apple for the Prince of Wales. He'll likely head back to the U.K. shortly after his outings in the U.S. wrap on Tuesday, as King Charles and Queen Camilla are also heading overseas this week. Buckingham Palace previously announced that the couple will head to France from Sept. 20 to Sept. 22 for a state visit. King Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 76, were originally scheduled to visit the country in March, but they postponed the trip due to riots happening across France at the time.
Although Prince William is not required to be in the U.K. when his father is overseas, he is one of the King's Counsellors of State — one of the royals who can carry out constitutional duties for King Charles if he is abroad or unwell.