Prince William. Photo credit: ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images.
By Maria Puente, USA TODAY
The job Prince William has as a rescue helicopter pilot isn't window dressing - he really does rescue people.
Late Thursday night, it was two teen-age girls who got into "difficulties," as the British put it, while swimming off the Welsh coast near William's RAF base in Anglesey.
As The Telegraph and other British media reported, a 16-year-old and her 13-year-old sister were struggling in the water in Silver Bay when nearby surfers noticed and alerted authorities. As the surfers waved and pointed, the future king piloted his Sea King helicopter over the older girl as his crew pulled her aboard; the younger girl had made it back to shore. Neither was hurt but both were cold and shocked, and were taken to a hospital as a precaution.
William's rescue heroics have been in the news before; last November he helped rescue a crew of Russian sailors after their ship sank in the Irish Sea.
Flight Lt. Wales, as he is known in the RAF, takes his job seriously: He missed the final days of the London Olympics, despite being an Olympic ambassador, in order to report back to duty at his base in Wales. His wife, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, and brother Prince Harry, an Army captain, filled in at the closing ceremony.
But his future as a full-time RAF pilot is up in the air as his role as a working royal grows. He may have to choose one or the other unless his military bosses find a way for him to work part time, possibly as a helicopter flight instructor, so he can take on more engagements.
His grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, are slowing down; Philip, 91, was hospitalized again this week, suffering from a recurrence of a bladder infection. Buckingham Palace said he is improving.