Prince Harry makes joke about King Charles at aviation awards bash in LA telling audience his was ‘terrified’ when his father jumped behind the controls of a helicopter when duke was ‘seven or eight-years-old’

  • The duke, 39, was asked by host John Travolta about first flight experience 

Prince Harry has joked about how he was left ‘terrified’ when his father jumped behind the controls of a helicopter during his first flight.  

The Duke of Sussex was inducted into the ‘Living Legends of Aviation’ on Friday night during a glitzy ceremony in Los Angeles where he was asked by host John Travolta about his first flight experience. 

The 39-year-old stood to a rapturous applause as he recollected how he was aged seven or eight years old when he excitedly jumped into a Wessex Helicopter. 

Harry joked: ‘But then my father jumped in behind me and I was terrified.’ But the duke made no mention of his sister in law Kate Middleton or his father’s medical dramas.

The audience erupted into laughter and applause in response to the prince’s quip with whistling also heard. Someone else can also be heard muttering ‘excellent’.

Harry is pictured standing next to his father in front of an Apache helicopter in March 2011. The duke joked he was ‘terrified’ when Charles jumped behind the controls of a helicopter during his first flight experience

Harry attended the ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills last night without wife Meghan Markle, with the Duchess of Sussex having to stay home as one of their children became unwell, the PA news agency reported.

He paid tribute to his mother Diana during his acceptance speech and took a moment to remember the Grease star’s meeting with Diana at a White House dinner for President Ronald Reagan in 1985.

READ MORE: This vainglorious gala felt like the popping of Harry’s bubble… but it was hard not to feel just a smidgen of sympathy for him – Caroline Graham recalls her night at the tacky ‘Living Legends of Aviation’ awards in Los Angeles

He was in high spirits on Friday as he joined Prince Mario-Max Schaumburg-Lippe, a 46-year-old minor German royal and cousin of outgoing Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, and others at the Beverly Hills Hilton.

Accepting the award from Travolta, the 39-year-old said: ‘I was just a one-year-old when you danced with my mum at the White House and now look at us.’

Harry completed two tours of Afghanistan as a forward air controller and an Apache helicopter pilot, having flown countless training missions in the UK, US and Australia.

He served for 10 years in the military, rising to the rank of Captain, and later founded the Invictus Games – a sporting event for wounded military personnel and veterans.

King Charles joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) in August 1971 where he was trained to fly both a jet and a helicopter.

He had already taken flying lessons at university and was able to fly himself to RAF Cranwell for his first day of training.

After completing training, Charles gained his RAF Wings as Flight Lieutenant Wales. He was the first member of the royal family to gain this award.

Harry takes his place alongside other aviation and aerospace ‘legends’ including Buzz Aldrin, Jeff Bezos, Tom Cruise, Neil Armstrong, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman and Elon Musk.

The event’s website also praised the duke for his work with charities and organisations including Travalyst, Sentebale, African Parks and WellChild. 

Harry (pictured attending the Invictus Games in Germany in September 2023) was at the ceremony without Meghan Markle who had to stay home after one of their children fell ill
Harry is pictured in March 2011 standing in front of an Apache Helicopter a few days after the royal passed the half-decade milestone to become a captain in the British Army
Harry is seen in December 2012 working as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan
Harry is pictured with Prince Mario-Max Schaumburg-Lippe at the awards ceremony in LA

Prince Harry pictured with John Travolta, Lauren Sanchez and Bill Gates at the Living Legends Of Aviation
The prince is seen arriving for Friday’s event in Los Angeles

A statement on its website said: ‘Prince Harry is a humanitarian, military veteran, mental wellness advocate and environmentalist.

‘He has dedicated his life to advancing causes that he is passionate about and that bring about permanent change for people and places.’

Harry, who was sporting a black velvet tuxedo, was inducted alongside US navy pilot Fred George and former world speed record holder Steve Hinton, as well as Lauren Sanchez – who is engaged to Amazon founder Bezos.

She received the Elling Halvorson Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award for her skills as a helicopter pilot and aviation businesswoman, having founded aerial filming company Black Ops Aviation in 2016.

The duke’s appearance comes as his father, the King, prepared to undergo treatment for an enlarged prostate next week, while his sister-in-law the Princess of Wales recovers from abdominal surgery in the London Clinic.

Among those congratulating Harry on the award was Prince Mario-Max Schaumburg-Lippe of Germany, who appeared on the Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills.

On Instagram, he said: ‘Congratulations To HRH Prince Harry for his very much deserved Living Legends of Aviation Award… Well Done.’

What did King Charles do during his service with the RAF?

The King has served in both the RAF and the Royal Navy.

During his second year at Cambridge University he was given flying lessons by the RAF and the then prince started training as a jet pilot on 8 March, 1971.

He passed out at RAF Cranwell and joined the Royal Navy.

After a six-week course at Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, he served on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk as well as on two frigates – HMS Minerva and HMS Jupiter.

In 1974 saw the King qualified as a helicopter pilot and he flew Wessex helicopters with 845 Naval Air Squadron from aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.

He ended his Royal Navy service in late 1976 after taking command of coastal minehunter HMS Bronington. 

The then Prince of Wales, being briefed by Wing Commander ‘Hank’ Martin, Commanding Officer No 43 Squadron, before his flight in a Phantom Interceptor in 1971

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