Kate Middleton and Prince William Release Statement After RAF Pilot Dies in Spitfire Crash: 'Incredibly Sad'

"Our thoughts are with the pilot’s loved ones," the Prince and Princess of Wales said in a tribute message over the weekend

<p>Samir Hussein - Pool/WireImage</p> Prince William (left) and Kate Middleton

Samir Hussein - Pool/WireImage

Prince William (left) and Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton and Prince William are paying tribute to a Royal Air Force pilot who died over the weekend.

On Saturday, May 25, the Prince and Princess of Wales shared a statement on X (formerly known as Twitter) after the RAF confirmed the pilot had died "in a tragic accident near RAF Coningsby" that day.

Per the Associated Press and the BBC, it was a World War II-era Spitfire fighter plane belonging to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) that crashed.

"Incredibly sad to hear of the news this afternoon from RAF Coningsby. Our thoughts this evening are with the pilot’s loved ones, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and the wider RAF family," Princess Kate and Prince William wrote, signing the message "W & C" (William and Catherine).

Related: Prince William Heading to One of His Favorite Sporting Events amid Slowdown in Royal Duties

On Sunday, May 26, RAF Group Captain Robbie Lees, Commander Display Air Wing, released an official statement confirming Squadron Leader Mark Long had died in the accident.

"It is with great sorrow that I must confirm the death of Squadron Leader Mark Long," Lees said in a statement shared on the RAF website.

"Mark was a Typhoon pilot here at RAF Coningsby and for the last four years, he has been a pilot with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. A great friend, colleague, and a passionate, professional aviator he will be sorely missed by all that knew him," he continued.

Lees confirmed an investigation "into the cause of this tragic event" was underway. "The RAF will not be offering any comment on the accident until that investigation has concluded, and likewise, we ask others not to speculate," the message added.

"I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the RAF personnel and our emergency services colleagues who responded so swiftly yesterday," the statement continued.

Lees concluded, "Our thoughts remain with Mark's family and friends to whom we offer our deepest sympathies. We ask that their privacy be respected at this tragic and shocking time."

Related: Prince William Says Kate Middleton Is 'Doing Well' and Shares Update on George, Charlotte and Louis

<p>Royal Air Force</p> Pilot Mark Long

Royal Air Force

Pilot Mark Long

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Prince William and Princess Kate have long had a special connection with the RAF, with William flying as an RAF Search and Rescue pilot based at RAF Valley in Anglesey, Wales, from 2010 to 2013.

In August 2023, it was announced that the Prince of Wales had become Royal Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Valley, and Princess Kate was named Royal Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Coningsby.

Back in 2008, William was appointed Honorary Air Commandant at RAF Coningsby by the late Queen Elizabeth, before the role was taken over by Kate last year.

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