Kate Middleton and Prince William 'Incredibly Sad' as They Speak out on RAF Coningsby Plane Crash

The heirs of the British royal family were among the first to issue a statement on the tragic crash.

Prince William and Kate Middleton responded quickly last week when an accidental plane crash claimed the life of pilot Mark Long. Long was flying a World War II-era Spitfire plane for the Royal Air Force (RAF) when he crashed in a field near Coningsby, England. The Prince and Princess of Wales sent their condolences to Long's friends and family, as well as the rest of the RAF.

"Incredibly sad to hear of the news this afternoon from RAF Coningsby," the post read. "Our thoughts this evening are with the pilot's loved ones, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and the wider RAF family." Long's identity was revealed a few days later in a report by the BBC. The prince has a lot of history with the RAF and maintains close connections with the military branch to this day. 

Long was flying a World War II-era Spitfire when he crashed on Saturday, May 28. He was near the RAF base in Coningsby, and the exact cause of his crash is still under investigation. A spokesperson for the RAF said: "Following the tragic accident at RAF Coningsby, and while the formal investigation is ongoing, the RAF has instigated a temporary pause in flying for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight [BBMF]."

The crash did not ultimately impact the royal family's plans for this week as they commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day. King Charles III made his first international trip since he was diagnosed with cancer on Thursday. He and Prince William marked the occasion in Portsmouth, England on Wednesday, June 5 and then in Normandy, France on Thursday, June 6. The festivities included a tribute by the RAF's "Red Arrows," who conducted a "fly-past" over the international ferry.

RAF Captain Robbie Lees was the one to confirm Long's passing. He spoke more about Long with reporters from the BBC, saying: "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."

Lee noted: "The RAF will not be offering any comment on the accident until that investigation has concluded, and likewise, we ask others not to speculate." He then continued: "I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the RAF personnel and our emergency services colleagues who responded so swiftly yesterday. 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."