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HRH Prince of Wales salutes the next generation of naval leaders

14 December 2023
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales welcomed more than 160 men and women to the international family of naval officers at an impressive ceremony in Dartmouth, Devon.

Prince William took the Royal Salute at what is probably the most prestigious event of the year at Britannia Royal Naval College, representing his father at Lord High Admiral’s Divisions.

Hosted by the Captain of BRNC Captain Sarah Oakley and accompanied by the Head of the Royal Navy, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key, His Royal Highness – who holds the honorary role of Commodore-in-Chief Submarines – inspected the passing out divisions arrayed on the parade ground of the Edwardian institution which looks out across Dartmouth and the Dart estuary.

Passing out was a mix of fresh Royal Navy Officer Cadets, 18 international cadets from Oman, Kuwait, Bangladesh and Trinidad & Tobago, 11 new officers for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – the Royal Navy’s vital support flotilla – and 18 sailors commissioned from the ranks.

All had undergone 29 weeks of intensive training, which turned them from civilians into junior naval officers who have been tested in a variety of scenarios: in the classroom, on Dartmoor, the River Dart and at sea on board an operational warship. Most will now go on to further training in their chosen branches of the Royal Navy.

Prince William told all present that Dartmouth still held “a very special place” in his heart through the connections of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, all of whom had marched on the parade ground, to his grandparents famously meeting in its grounds on the eve of World War 2 and his personal experiences at the College 15 years ago.

He completed a short, intensive training course at Britannia before deploying with frigate HMS Iron Duke on Caribbean anti-narcotics patrols in 2008. Having once stood on the same spot as the cadets on cold winter’s days, he promised to keep his speech short to allow them to march through the College’s famous doors at the ceremony’s end and celebrate their success.

For cadets going on to serve in the Royal Navy, His Royal Highness said they were embarking upon “incredibly rewarding” careers in “a period of great expansion”.

He concluded his address: “To the families and friends gathered here and watching online – thank you for your support and understanding to get these brilliant men and women this far, and even more so for the empathy, compromise, and dedication that will be required to give these Young Officers every chance of success in their careers.

“Finally to you, our newest Naval Officers, congratulations. I wish you every success as you embark on this incredible journey of duty and service to our Nation.”

His Royal Highness subsequently met some of the Cadets who had taken part in the parade, plus their instructors and staff, on the historic Quarter Deck inside the College.

Among those passing out in front of the heir to the throne after completing their training were 22-year-old Officer Cadet Syd Shane from Southampton who came to the UK from Baghdad when he was six, and 25-year0old Grace Penn from Portsmouth, who passed out at Dartmouth as a rating during the Covid pandemic, and the first of her class to join the Officer Corps.

Syd, who will now train as a submarine engineer, said: “I’ve been inspired by doing Officer training by my family, who have supported me through the course. Training has given me confidence in leadership and I am exciting about moving onto the engineering and working with nuclear submarines.”

Grace added: “Having completed my Rating training here at BRNC during Covid, I had a good idea what to expect. I served at Culdrose and HMS Northumberland in Logistics, so experiences on HMS Prince of Wales were very familiar. My next move will be to become a logistics officer and travel – I just love being by the sea.”

Captain Sarah Oakley, Britannia’s Commanding Officer, said that all passing-out parades at Dartmouth were special, but Lord High Admiral’s Divisions was…“probably the most prestigious of the year”.

She continued: “Today is an historic day for BRNC as we host His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as our Guest of Honour at this year’s Lord High Admiral’s Divisions. All the cadets passing out have reached a significant milestone in their naval career and now move on to the next stage of training and new roles across the Royal Navy.

“Whether this is their first step on their naval journey, or the culmination of many years of dedicated service, passing out of the college as a naval officer in front of friends and family is a testament to their hard work and commitment.”

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