Prince William "delighted" at graduation as helicopter pilot
Britain's Prince William qualified as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot Friday after completing Royal Airforce (RAF) training that could also give him wings to take major decisions concerning his private life, reported DPA.
The 28-year-old prince, who is second in line to the throne, received his certificate and squadron badges after a 19-month training programme at RAF Valley, in Anglesey, on the northern tip of Wales.
Flight Lieutenant William Wales, as he will now be known, completed 70 hours of live flying and 50 hours of simulator training on Sea King navy helicopters, and took part in a number of simulated rescue missions over the Irish Sea and the Atlantic.
The prince said he was "delighted" at having qualified. "The course has been challenging, but I have enjoyed it immensely," he said Friday. Prince William sill spend the next three years at the base flying rescue missions.
Completion of the course is seen as a major step in the prince's military career, but also in his private life. His long-term girlfriend, Kate Middleton, has been living with him for the past months at a home near the RAF base, British media have reported.
She did not attend the ceremony Friday, but British tabloids have long speculated that William's graduation as a pilot would be an important step towards a possible announcement of an engagement between the pair, who met at St. Andrew's university in Scotland in 2003.
William himself has often said he wants to complete his military training first before taking major decisions on his private life. However, tabloids have speculated that an announcement on an engagement could be made later this year, followed by a royal wedding next summer.