Norfolk soldier's proud day with Princess Royal as top army cadet

Cadet William Key receives the sword of honour from the Princess Royal

Cadet William Key receives the sword of honour from the Princess Royal - Credit: Sergeant Tom Evans/MOD

This picture shows the proud moment a Norfolk soldier met the Princess Royal as he was named best officer cadet.

William Key, 25 and of Limpenhoe, near Acle, has been commissioned into the British Army as a 2nd lieutenant after a gruelling year-long course at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Cadet officer William key during his training

Cadet officer William Key during his training - Credit: William Key

In front of his proud parents, Pat and Helen, the farmer's son was one of 200 officer cadets to parade in front of the Princess Royal as they were commissioned.

And to make his parents even prouder, the former Acle Academy and East Norfolk Sixth Form student received the coveted sword of honour from the Princess Royal.

William Key hopes to join the Parachute Regiment

William Key hopes to join the Parachute Regiment - Credit: William Key

It is awarded to the cadet who is considered by the academy commandant to be the best of their intake.

The new officer also had to introduce the Princess Royal to his fellow cadets on parade and he had lunch with her, where they talked about sheep and Norwich cattle market.

And 2nd Lt Key cites working on his family farm in his younger days as one of the prime reasons why he excelled at Sandhurst.

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He said: "It instilled in me you have to get your hands dirty and never leave things unfinished."

During the year-long course the cadets were twice placed on lockdown at the academy due to Covid.

And the top cadet now faces further gruelling training as he aims to join the elite Parachute Regiment on his next stage of officer training, which includes the punishing P company course and 10 parachute jumps to gain the world famous maroon beret.

He said: "The history of the regiment inspires me and I am inspired by what they continue to do today, such as in Kabul."

William Key working at the family farm at Reedham

William Key working at the family farm at Reedham - Credit: William Key

He joined the Norfolk Army Cadet Force at the age of 12 and while at Queen's University Belfast joined its university officer's training course.

His father Pat Key, 57 and who farms at Reedham, said: "I still have to pinch myself that William was given the sword of honour and chatted to Princess Anne at lunch."

The Princess Royal attended her first commissioning event at Sandhurst in 1973.

She told the latest officers to the army: "The training here at Sandhurst embodies all that is best about our nation and its army."