Crisp blue uniforms, brass buttons and gold braids were proudly on display yesterday in the West Midlands, as Brunei’s monarch had the unique opportunity to present his second-youngest son with his ‘wings’.
His Majesty Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam was a special guest at a graduation ceremony for the Defence Helicopter Flying School at the Royal Air Force (RAF) station in Shawbury, where he presented Wing Badges to 27 officers, including his son.
His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen, a captain in the Royal Brunei Air Force, has been training as a helicopter pilot with the the RAF for the past year. He completed his elementary flying course at RAF Cranwell last April, before undertaking the single engine rotary wing course at RAF Shawbury, flying the Squirrel helicopter.
After receiving his RAF Wing Badge, the 26-year-old prince will continue his training to qualify as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.
HRH succeeds his father as the second Brunei royal to become a licensed pilot. The sultan is known to be a keen aviator and is perhaps the only world leader that flies himself to regional meetings of heads of state.
The RAF Shawbury trains around 1,000 students a year from across the UK Armed Services and its international defence partners, which “helps to build lasting relationships within the international defence community”, according to officials.
Prince Mateen began his military training as an officer cadet at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2010. He then read politics at King’s College London, graduating in 2014 before completing his masters degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in 2016.