Prince William has made a secret trip to Afghanistan to visit British troops.

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The 25-year-old royal – who received his Royal Air Force pilot’s ‘wings’ earlier this month – flew a military transport aircraft for part of the journey from the UK to Kandahar.

He then spent three hours on the ground meeting RAF personnel on Monday (28.04.08).

A Clarence House spokesman said William’s father Princes Charles and grandmother Queen Elizabeth had given their permission for the confidential trip, which had been a “success”.

He added: “The purpose of the trip was for the prince to familiarise himself with the operations of the RAF in theatre.”

After leaving Afghanistan, William, who is second in line to the throne, flew on to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. He said the whole trip had taken about 30 hours and “passed without a hitch”.

One officer at the base said: “It was pretty brave of him to come, and everyone was pleased that he did. It means he can now look soldiers in the face.”

William was recently criticised when it was revealed he had used a military helicopter to land near girlfriend Kate Middleton’s home and to go to a stag do on the Isle of Wight.

The Ministry of Defence accepted there had been a degree of naivety in the planning of these flights.

Earlier this year, William’s younger brother Harry was serving on the front line in Afghanistan for 10 weeks but his tour of duty was cut short after a media blackout broke down.