The King officially handed over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps to the Prince of Wales during a visit to an airfield just outside Salisbury.

Charles – who became the inaugural holder of the title 32 years ago – met with his eldest son in a rare joint official engagement at the Middle Wallop base on Monday afternoon to transfer the role.

The King said it was a “great joy” to meet servicemen, their families and veterans at an earlier visit to the Army Flying Museum.

Salisbury Journal: King Charles III poses with service personnel after he officially handed over the role of

He unveiled a plaque commemorating an Apache AH Mk.1 going on display, the first of its kind to be installed at a UK museum.

The aircraft was one of four involved in a rescue mission during the Battle of Jugroom Fort in 2007.

He said: "Let me just say what a great joy it is to be with you even briefly on this occasion but also it is tinged with great sadness after 32 years of knowing you all, admiring your many activities and achievements through the time that I’ve been lucky enough to be Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps.”

Salisbury Journal: King Charles III arrives for a visit to Army Aviation Centre at Middle Wallop, to officially hand

General Nick Barton, who took part in the rescue operation, said it was a “unique honour” to meet the King who served as an important “figurehead” for the soldiers.

The Army Air Corps is the Duke of Sussex’s old unit, in which he served as an Apache helicopter commander and co-pilot gunner during his second tour to Afghanistan in 2012.

The King’s decision to hand the role to William was seen as a blow to Harry when it was announced last year.

The duke had been thought the most likely candidate to take on the honour one day if he had remained a working royal.

Charles spoke to one veteran who had previously undergone chemotherapy for testicular cancer, discussing losing the sense of taste as a result of the treatment.

William will embark on his first engagement with the Army Air Corps later in the afternoon, receiving a briefing on its work and inspecting training and operational aircraft as well as talking to soldiers.

He will then leave the base in an Apache as part of a capability flight.

The King trained with the RAF while in his second year at the University of Cambridge and was given his wings in August 1971.

William served in the Army with the Blues and Royals and was an RAF search and rescue pilot for three years at RAF Valley in Anglesey, Wales.