William and Kate returned to Anglesey in North Wales today.
A broader view of those assembled inside the hangar at Anglesey.
The trip must have been bittersweet, as the duo returned to attend official ceremonies marking the end of Royal Air Force Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. William was based at RAF Valley for several years when he was assigned to the RAF SAR unit at Anglesey.
All Royal Navy and RAF SAR operations have been privatized; RAF Valley operations were moved to Caernarfon Airport last July. More from the North Wales Daily Post:
Bristow Helicopters Ltd took over operations from the much-lauded C Flight 22 Squadron based at RAF Valley.
A special civic ceremony was held in June to say farewell to the search and rescue services.
This picture is included for those fond of Rebecca Deacon, Kate’s Private Secretary.
Kate and William waiting for the formal ceremony to begin.
The service operated for more than 75 years, but its termination does not otherwise impact RAF Valley operations. More from Richard Palmer’s story in The Express:
Kate, 34, and William, 33, lived in a cottage in Anglesey for three years and enjoyed the seclusion that the Welsh countryside offered as they settled down.
William may well have signed on for another tour of duty with the RAF if the service had not been earmarked for privatisation, according to some sources, as he and Kate enjoyed living as a service couple hidden away from the glare of publicity for much of the year.
Over the years many royals have visited RAF Valley. Below, William showing his father one of the Sea Kings during a July 2012 visit; on the right you see HM at the base in April of 2011.
The Duke’s CO had praise for Flight Lieutenant Wales, as he was called. Back to Richard Palmer’s story:
Today his former squadron commander, Wing Commander Sparky Dunlop, praised William for his time in the service.
He said: “He was not only up to doing it but he did more than that.
“When he was serving with us he was a very good pilot.
A bit more from The Express and William’s former commanding officer:
“I did his operational captaincy check, when you jump from co-pilot to captain, and he was given a very tough check and he more than rose to the occasion.
“He would live and work with his crew, go on rescues with his crew, eat with his crew.
“He was just another one of the guys.
“He is one of the family and we wanted as many of the family to come back today and say goodbye.”
The Sun’s Emily Andrews heard a few tales about how the crew teased Prince William.
Following the ceremony, there was a reception for current and former squadron members.
Emy Nash of Hello! reported on Twitter that Kate shared how happy she and William were when living on the island in North Wales, saying “It was such a special time for us. It was the start of our life together really.”
Now we look at what Kate wore for today’s journey to Anglesey. Many will recognize the Duchess’s Ami coat by LK Bennett.
The coat is from LK Bennett’s a/w 2011 collection and was originally priced at £345. It is made of a wool/nylon blend, with a high collar, epaulets, self belt, deep vent in back for ease when walking and front slit pockets.
Previously the Duchess wore the garment on three other occasions, all of them in November: from left to right, at a 2011 UNICEF event in Denmark with Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik; for a 2012 rugby match in Wales; and to London Poppy Day activities in 2013.
Kate accessorized with her Betty Boop hat by Lock & Company.
By my count this is the sixth time we have seen the Duchess wearing the chapeau. Previously we have seen Kate sporting the style on St. Patrick’s Day of 2012; for a 2013 wedding in Switzerland; at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2013; on Christmas Day of 2014; and again for St. Patrick’s Day 2015.
The Duchess wore brown suede gloves and it appears she was carrying her Natasha Clutch in chocolate brown by Emmy Shoes. I say ‘appears’ because none of the photos show the bag well at all, just glimpses of it.
UPDATE: WKW friend Bella reminded me that Kate wore brown gloves and carried a brown suede clutch when attending Cheltenham in 2013. In that post we identified the clutch as Kate’s Natasha by Emmy London, and the gloves as the Cornelia James Imogen. Logic dictates the accessories would be the same, but there is always a chance the Duchess switched things up; without closer photos, it isn’t possible to say with 100% certainty the gloves are the same.
The Natasha makes sense in part because Kate’s shoes and hat are brown, so it is likely she would be carrying a brown clutch as well, and this is one that we know she frequently carries. The shape of the bag is also similar to the Natasha.
We really haven’t been able to sort out precisely which pair of shoes the Duchess is wearing.
We will update this as new info becomes available.
She also wore her Empress earrings from Mappin and Webb. It looked like Kate was wearing her Cartier Ballon Bleu wristwatch again.
We will leave you with this tweet from the RAF Benevolent Fund.
- You can visit the RAF Valley website here, its Facebook page is here
- This link takes you to a 2011 Telegraph article with background on the privatization of the Navy and RAF SAR operations; clicking this link will take you to a more recent story (March, 2015) in The Guardian about the transition; this link takes you to a Daily Mail story about the SAR choppers making their final flight in Scotland; as one expects with The Mail, the piece is filled with outstanding photos
- Victoria Murphy’s Daily Mirror story may be seen here, Richard Palmer’s story in The Express is here, Rebecca English’s story in The Daily Mail is here, and Simon Perry’s story in People is here
- ITN has a 4-minute+ video you can see on Twitter by clicking here
- Jez Hemmings coverage in The Daily Post (N. Wales) is here