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Duchess Kate latest female high-flier to take on Air Cadets role

By Helen William

Published 08/02/2016

Kate with cadets to mark the anniversary
Kate with cadets to mark the anniversary
Kate with cadets to mark the anniversary
Kate wore a Wedgewood blue Alexander McQueen coat
Kate with kids from Salusbury Primary School in Queen’s Park, London, during filming of a video message for Children’s Mental Health Week

The Duchess of Cambridge led a strong female line-up as she launched the 75th anniversary of the Air Cadets.

Perhaps in a sign of girl power, for the first time in the unit's history there is now a female commandant in Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, a female ambassador to the RAF Cadets in TV personality Carol Vorderman, and a royal female patron in Kate.

Kate stepped out in her first engagement as Honorary Air Commandant of the Air Cadets, taking over from the Duke of Edinburgh, to attend a thanksgiving service at the RAF church of St Clement Danes in central London.

Mathematician Ms Vorderman, whose daughter Katie joined the Air Cadets, believes Kate will help in attracting women to what is often seen as a male-dominated sector.

She said: "I think it is fantastic. Kate is possibly the most famous woman internationally.

"Her husband is a flier. Her brother-in-law is a flier. Her father-in-law is a flier and her mum used to work for an airline.

"We have 42,000 Air Cadets now and they say it gives them a structure and something they are very proud to belong to and serve in."

Kate took a short walk from the packed church of 500 cadets, volunteers and senior RAF officials to the Royal Courts of Justice. This was the first chance for the young cadets to meet their new patron.

She chatted to cadets, veterans and adult volunteers about their many programmes and activities.

She wore a Wedgewood blue Alexander McQueen coat and also proudly sported the ruby and diamond Dacre brooch, awarded over the past 35 years to the best female cadet.

To bring women in line with the men, the brooch has now been retired from this use. Like their male colleagues, the female cadets will now receive a sword to mark their achievements.

Kate assumed her new role in December, taking over from Prince Philip, who had been involved in the organisation for more than 60 years.

The RAF Air Cadets comprises the Air Training Corps (ATC) and the Combined Cadet Force (RAF).

The ATC was established in 1941 during the Second World War to train young men in aviation skills before they joined the RAF.

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