Pilot role could see Prince William serve in Northern Ireland

Prince William could serve with the RAF in Northern Ireland on completing his pilot training, it emerged today.

The second in line to the throne is scheduled to finish his training as an RAF search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in September.

An announcement is expected later this month about which of the six RAF helicopter search and rescue stations William will be assigned to in his role as a flight lieutenant.

They include: Boulmer (Northumberland); Leconfield (Yorkshire); Lossiemouth (Moray); Chivenor (Devon); Valley (Anglesey) and Wattisham (Suffolk).

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "Clearly, crews based at Valley are the most likely to be called to incidents in Northern Ireland, however crews based at all six stations could in theory be sent anywhere, including Northern Ireland, should the need arise."

Should the Prince be sent to Northern Ireland on duty, sources said, he would be the first member of the Royal Family to serve there since the outbreak of the Troubles in the 1960s.

A St James's Palace spokesman said: "Prince William, once he is a fully operational pilot, will go wherever his duties send him."

William's father Charles was left devastated when his great-uncle and mentor Earl Mountbatten was killed by the IRA in 1979 while on holiday in the Republic of Ireland.