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Charles attends socially distanced RAF graduation ceremony

The Prince of Wales was the reviewing officer at RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire.

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The Prince of Wales (Julian Simmonds/The Daily Telegraph/PA)

The Prince of Wales (Julian Simmonds/The Daily Telegraph/PA)

The Prince of Wales (Julian Simmonds/The Daily Telegraph/PA)

The Prince of Wales paid tribute to RAF cadets who continued their training during the coronavirus pandemic as he attended a socially distanced graduation ceremony.

Charles, 71, was the reviewing officer at Thursday’s parade at RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire, attended by cadets who have completed their initial officer training.

He inspected the ranks and presented course prizes to top-performing cadets, with no handshakes involved and winners collecting their awards from a table.

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Charles inspects the graduates (Julian Simmonds/Daily Telegraph/PA)

Charles inspects the graduates (Julian Simmonds/Daily Telegraph/PA)

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Charles inspects the graduates (Julian Simmonds/Daily Telegraph/PA)

The prince, who wore number one RAF full ceremonial dress, said in a speech to around 150 cadets: “I am immensely impressed that you have all managed to continue with your training and reach this stage, given the complexities that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to every aspect of life.

“I know that this will not have been easy and is a testament to the flexibility and determination, not only of the staff, but of every one of you.

“This same dedication, adaptability and willingness continually to push yourselves will be required time after time in your future careers.”

Family and friends of the graduating cadets were unable to attend the ceremony due to social distancing restrictions.

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Charles talks to graduates at RAF College Cranwell (Julian Simmonds/Daily Telegraph/PA)

Charles talks to graduates at RAF College Cranwell (Julian Simmonds/Daily Telegraph/PA)

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Charles talks to graduates at RAF College Cranwell (Julian Simmonds/Daily Telegraph/PA)

After a parade and flypasts of a Typhoon and the Red Arrows, Charles spoke to cadets gathered in circles at a socially-distanced outdoor reception.

He then planted a lime tree in recognition of the college’s centenary.

Commandant of the Royal Air Force College, Air Commodore Suraya Marshall, said: “The graduates have endured the most challenging of training periods.

“This is a truly unique occasion, of which all participants can be justifiable proud.”

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The Red Arrows flypast (Julian Simmonds/Daily Telegraph/PA)

The Red Arrows flypast (Julian Simmonds/Daily Telegraph/PA)

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The Red Arrows flypast (Julian Simmonds/Daily Telegraph/PA)

Charles is himself a graduate of Cranwell in Lincolnshire, where he was awarded his RAF pilot’s wings in 1971.

He last visited the station in 2008 for the Duke of Cambridge’s graduation ceremony, when William become the fourth successive generation of the monarchy to become an RAF pilot.

Charles was appointed to the rank of Marshal of the RAF in 2012, the highest rank in the British Royal Air Force.

PA