King Charles III will be in the spotlight more than ever this weekend, with 6 May marking the date of his coronation. The former Prince of Wales acceded to the throne at the age of 73, and is the oldest person to assume the British throne.
Not only will he now “officially” become the King, but he will also take on the role as the military’s new Commander-in-Chief. The King has maintained very close links to the Armed Forces throughout his life, and can often be spotted in military uniform with an array of medals at official state events.
He previously boasted the uniform during a procession of the cortege carrying the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall and today, at the Queen’s state funeral. Here is everything you need to know about Charles’ time in the military.
What is King Charles III’s history with the UK armed forces?
Charles served in both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy in his 20’s.
In March 1971, he began training as a jet pilot at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell after flying himself there following training he had received from the RAF during his second year at University.
He had a passing out parade at the Lincolnshire base in September that same year.
He then enrolled on a six-week course at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth - following in the naval footsteps of his father, grandfather and two of his great-grandfathers.
During his naval career, he served on guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk (1971–1972), and two frigates HMS Minerva (1972–1973) and HMS Jupiter (1974).
In 1974, he qualified as a helicopter pilot at RNAS Yeovilton, and joined the 845 Naval Air Squadron, operating from HMS Hermes.
When did King Charles III join the military?
During his second year studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree at Cambridge University, Charles requested and received Royal Air Force training.
He learnt to fly the Chipmunk aircraft with Cambridge University Air Squadron and his passing out parade took place in September 1971 - a year after finishing University.
Following this, he began his Royal Navy training and was serving on the HMS Norfolk that same year.
What medals is King Charles III wearing?
Charles hasn’t got medals for active service in a war, but instead for serving in a particular place, being a member of a high-ranking order, or medals from other countries.
The former Prince of Wales can be seen wearing the following medals; Queen’s Service Order (New Zealand), Coronation Medal, Silver Jubilee Medal, Golden Jubilee Medal, Diamond Jubilee Medal, Naval Long Service Good Conduct (LSGC), Canadian Forces Decoration, the New Zealand Commemorative Medal, and the New Zealand Armed Forces Award.
Is King Charles III still involved in the military now?
Charles served in the Royal Navy from 1971 until February 1976 after taking command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington for the last ten months of his active service.
He served in the Royal Air Force from 1971 until 1994, when he decided to give up flying after crash-landing a BAe 146 in Islay.
Despite leaving the military, the King has continued to work closely with the Armed Forces.
In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the highest rank in all three services - Field Marshal, Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.