THE Duke of York and Prince Michael of Kent attended a special ceremony at RAF Benson to mark the handover of 25 Merlin helicopters to the Royal Navy.
A parade was held at the base yesterday by members of 78 Squadron Royal Air Force, which was officially disbanded, and 846 Naval Air Squadron of the Commando Helicopter Force, which will take over responsibility for the aircraft.
A Chinook, four Merlin and two Sea King helicopters performed a flypast in formation before the two royals spoke to those on parade.
They then watched as the 78 Squadron standard was marched off for the final time.
Prince Michael said: I am honoured to be here to pay respect to the men and women of 78 Squadron as they formally disband today. The squadron has served with courage and fortitude for almost a century, giving so much to our country and society at large.
It is only fitting that 78 Squadrons disbandment is marked by such a stunning ceremonial event with airmen and officers proudly parading the squadron standard for the final time before it is retired.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford said: For many RAF members in the audience and on parade this is a solemn and sad occasion.
He said the history of the squadron dated back almost 100 years and was born out of the mud and blood of the First World War.
He added: Today we say farewell to 78 Squadron. Rather than mourn this occasion, we should use it as an opportunity to celebrate the partnership between our two services.
Watch our video of the event to be posted later today (Wednesday).