Captain Kate! Princess of Wales sits in the cockpit of a Royal Navy helicopter and tries out a flight simulator on visit to an air base in Somerset




The Princess of Wales was in the captain’s seat on her visit to a Royal Navy air base this afternoon as she tried her hand at a helicopter’s flight simulator.

Kate, 41, donned a £549 black blazer from Holland Cooper which she has worn previously, with gold button detailing, paired with trousers and £650 black pumps with a thick heel from Gianvito Rossi as she visited the Royal Navy Air Station in Yeovilton.

The princess, who is commodore-in-chief of the Fleet Air Arm as of last month, styled her long, thick brunette locks in bouncy blow-dried waves, with her new 70s-style fringe framing her face perfectly. 

Showcasing her natural beauty, the mother-of-three kept make-up simple with a touch of blush, a nude lip and a bronze eye and she accessorised with white topaz Kiki McDonough teardrop earrings.

While visiting an aircraft hangar, Kate fell about laughing while trying on an emergency lifejacket and inflating it as she wore it around her neck. Elsewhere in her visit, she chatted with personnel in the air traffic control tower, before having the opportunity to trial the flight simulator.

The Princess of Wales sat in a training version of a Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter on her visit, where she took part in a flight simulator
The Princess looked apprehensive after a lifejacket inflated much more quickly than she had expected it to
The Princess of Wales, 41, looked ready for business as she arrived at RNAS Yeovilton this morning in a black blazer and trousers

Pictured trying on an inconspicuous-looking camouflage lifejacket, the Princess beamed but looked a little apprehensive as she prepared to inflate the device.

As she pulled on the toggle, she closed her eyes and winced as the device inflated quickly and with force, just as it would in an emergency situation.

Appearing a little taken aback by the fast inflation, Princess Kate burst into a fit of giggles, before staff aided her in removing the lifejacket.

After the exercise, Louise Evans-Hughes, a leading survival equipment technician, revealed she knew exactly what was going to happen the moment the lifejacket inflated.

She said: ‘I told the princess there might be a bit of a bang because sometimes when the Velcro rips open there is a bit of a noise.

‘I think that was why she was a bit apprehensive to pull it. As soon as she pulled it, it inflated.

‘I gave the princess the option whether she wanted to put it on or whether one of my colleagues would put it on.

‘I didn’t know if she would or not, but it was really nice that she got hands-on and got really engaged in what we do and making the kit work.’

Describing the princess’s reaction to the lifejacket inflating, she said: ‘I see it a lot when we train the air crew pilots so it’s something that I see all the time so I knew what was going to happen and it was quite nice to watch her face.

The Princess is pictured stepping out of the Merlin MkII helicopter during her visit to the naval air station
Kate alighted the helicopter with ease and grace as she touched down on the ground
The princess is pictured sitting inside the cockpit of the Merlin Mk II Helicopter
During her visit, the mother-of-three helped to load a training Sea Venom anti ship missile onto the Wildcat helicopter
The Princess looked impressed by the state-of-the-art equipment on board the helicopter

‘I think afterwards she said it was quite snug and didn’t realise how big it was going to go and I quickly let some air out so she wouldn’t be uncomfortable.’

The 32-year-old servicewoman, who is originally from Bath, said Kate is the first member of the royal family she has met.

‘The princess was really engaged, really excited and asking loads of questions, which is quite nice,’ she said.

‘(I) Think, for me, every day that you become a bit immune to what you do. It’s nice to be remembered and some of the things that you’re doing.’

She said she did not have any nerves until seconds before she was introduced to Kate.

‘It sort of just hit me. I was thinking about saying ‘Good morning, Ma’am’ but she was just so engaging and lovely, as soon as she started talking to me I was really put at ease.’

Upon arrival at the naval base, the princess was pictured shaking hands with workers in the tower, where staff work hard to ensure the safe operation of RNAS Yeovilton.

The Princess couldn’t help but giggle as she inflated a lifejacket while visiting a hangar at the base
The Princess fell about laughing while testing out the lifejacket, pulling on the toggle to inflate it
Kate chatted with personnel in the hangar as she learnt about how they ensure the running of the naval base is safe and smooth
A staff member came to the Princess’s aid with the inflated lifejacket to help her remove it

As Princess Kate demonstrated the lifejacket, she looked a little restricted in her movements
Kate appeared a little taken aback by the speed and force with which the lifejacket inflated, while staff watched on to make sure she was doing so safely
Kate beamed but looked a little apprehensive before pulling the toggle to inflate the lifejacket
An officer with the surname Evans-Hughes demonstrated how to pull the toggle on the lifejacket before Kate gave it a go herself
Personnel at the base instructed the princess on how best to put on the lifejacket before she inflated it
Princess Kate put her arms in the camouflage lifejacket which looked inconspicuous before it was inflated

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The mother-of-three wore her thick brunette locks down and in bouncy curls
Kate couldn’t help but let out a giggle as she prepared to don the lifejacket and test it out
An officer led the princess to a station where she would try on a lifejacket
The Princess of Wales arrived in a hangar on the base where she took a look at some of the models of aircraft
The Princess was pictured chatting with members of the air traffic control in her visit to the tower earlier today
The royal mother-of-three appeared in high spirits as she spoke with members of staff at the base today
For the first stop on her visit to the Royal Navy Air Base, the Princess was pictured wearing a headset in the air traffic control tower
Kate wears head phones as she talks to the crew of a Royal Navy wildcat helicopter from the control tower during her visit to Royal Naval Air Station
Kate wears head phones as she talks to the crew of a Royal Navy wildcat helicopter from the control tower during her visit to Royal Naval Air Station
The princess visited the cockpit of an aircraft where she appeared deep in conversation with a pilot about the inner workings of the aircraft

While there, she had the chance to communicate with the crew members onboard an airborne Wildcat flight. 

Footage from within the tower showed the princess concentrating on the landing strip outside while wearing a headset. She was accompanied by an officer who was communicating with the airborne crews.

She also heard the roar of an F-35B Lightning from RAF Marham as it ‘buzzed’ the control tower.

For the final leg of her visit, the princess visited the Wildcat training centre and assisted the crews who were being trained to load the anti-shipping Sea Venom missile on to the Wildcat Mk2 helicopter.

Kate then tried her hand at flying a Wildcat Mk2 in a simulator, which allows air crew to practise flying over land or on to ships.

The maritime attack helicopter is designed to operate from the frigates and destroyers of the Royal Navy.

The King went to the air station for helicopter flying training in 1974, when he was Prince of Wales.

More than 4,000 personnel are employed on the site, which is home to a number of frontline squadrons and training units.

Princess Kate, a mother of three, donned block navy heels to match her elegant outfit, layering the blazer over a white top
After a morning of gloomy weather the sun came out for the princess, who is commodore-in-chief of the Fleet Air Arm

Captain Duncan Thomas, RNAS Yeovilton’s commanding officer, said afterwards: ‘I am delighted and privileged to have welcomed the Princess of Wales to the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, at the start of what I am sure will be a long and rewarding relationship in her capacity as Commodore-in-Chief of the Fleet Air Arm.

‘We’ve all been hugely excited by this opportunity and I am delighted that Her Royal Highness will be able to support and inspire our exceptionally talented sailors, air crew and wider workforce family for years to come.’

Last month, the King appointed Princess Kate as commodore-in-chief of the Fleet Air Arm, a position previously held by Prince Andrew. 

Her solo visit comes as her husband, Prince William, prepares to fly to New York later this afternoon where he has a busy week of engagements in New York Climate Week, ahead of events surrounding this year’s Earthshot Prize.

After landing in Newark Airport in the city this evening, the Prince of Wales, 41, will visit the Billion Oyster Project, which is running an initiative to restore oyster reefs in the New York Harbour.

The project collaborates with local schools and brings in pupils to solve the challenges faced in the battle for climate conservation. 

Following this visit, the Prince will head to the UN General Assembly where he is due to meet with António Guterres, the UN Secretary General. 

Tomorrow, William will attend the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit ahead of this year’s Earthshot Prize ceremony, which will take place in November.



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