Transgender RAF pilot who served with Prince William opens up about transition

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An RAF Search and Rescue pilot who served alongside Prince William has opened up about her transition for the first time.

Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom – who works as part of the same team as the second-in-line to the throne – made history in 2011 when she attended the Prince’s wedding to Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, shortly after coming out as trans.

It was one of her first work-related duties after transitioning to female – but she says there have been very few problems being accepted within the team.

The pilot – who is now in a lesbian relationship with wife Wren – told the Mail: “All my RAF colleagues were brilliant.

“I think they were surprised because I was pretty adept at pretending to be a man. I walked macho, I sat macho, I worked out hard and I like a bit of banter.

“But when I came back as a woman there was complete acceptance and empathy. Even old and bold warrant officers who had grown up in the days when people like me would have been taken behind the bike sheds for a kicking, came to congratulate me.

“I can see why someone might think it’s been difficult. Men go to war, women stay at home and mind the children – that’s the traditional military narrative. But being transgender in the RAF has been, in some ways, easier than in civilian life.

“The military has a policy and there are rules and what we do is adhere to them. t keeps things simple. Even this.

“‘I was worried I would have to surrender my flying career but I was wrong, just as my fears about losing the love of my family and friends were unfounded. I was quietly confident I would keep my marriage but I couldn’t know: Wren married a man.”