UK Prince William qualifies as search&rescue captain

LONDON, June 7 Thu Jun 7, 2012 8:05am EDT

LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) - Prince William is now qualified to fly Sea King helicopters for search and rescue missions in the Royal Air Force, Britain's Ministry of Defence said on Thursday.

Previously, William, who turns 30 in two weeks' time, was only authorised to co-pilot search and rescue missions for 22 Squadron based in Anglesey in north Wales.

The prince is also known as the Duke of Cambridge or "Flight Lieutenant Wales" within the military but the new qualification does not alter his rank.

"Flight Lieutenant Wales demonstrated the required standards needed for the award of Operation Captaincy," said Mark Dunlop, the commander of 22 Squadron.

"Operational Captaincy carries the overarching responsibility for the safety of the aircraft, its crew and any casualties...required standards are always set at a very high level."

William and his wife - formerly known as Kate Middleton - were on show last weekend at a 1,000 vessel flotilla on the River Thames, a star-studded concert in front of Buckingham Palace and a royal procession through London for his grandmother the queen's diamond jubilee celebrations.

Millions of people turned out for events in central London and at parties in communities across Britain and in around the world to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's 60-year reign.

Now having passed his military assessments on May 29, the Duke of Cambridge has another reason to celebrate after two-years of training leading up to the military exams.

Tests included searching for a yacht from the air, carrying out a rescue search for stray kayakers and stranded people in the water and extinguishing a fire on a large ship.

The prince was involved in his first rescue mission in October 2010 after a man took ill on an oil rig in Morecambe Bay near Lancaster. (Editing by Paul Casciato)

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