Prince William and his wife, Catherine, attend a swimming competition at the London Olympics earlier this month.

Story highlights

Prince William piloted a helicopter that rescued a 16-year-old girl from a rip current

The girl had been caught up by the current while body boarding off the Welsh coast

William is a fully qualified Royal Air Force search-and-rescue pilot

London CNN  — 

Britain’s Prince William has helped save a teenage girl who was in danger of drowning off the coast of Wales in his role as Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot.

The 16-year-old girl was caught in a rip current and rapidly losing strength when the alarm was raised Thursday, a statement from the RAF Search and Rescue Force said.

William, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, had just landed a Sea King helicopter nearby, after going out on a routine exercise, when the alert was radioed through.

Former PM: William and Kate reinvigorated monarchy

In less than a minute, he and the crew had reached the scene and a paramedic was winched down into the sea to assist the exhausted girl, who had just gone under water.

The paramedic, Master Aircrew “Harry” Harrison, is quoted as saying: “We never know what we’ll face when we’re called out. Sometimes it’s just a twisted ankle or a broken bone, but this was one rescue where we truly did arrive in the nick of time and managed to save this young girl’s life.”

The girl and a younger friend, who was rescued by a surfer, had been body-boarding in Silver Bay, the statement said.

Both were airlifted to the hospital in Bangor, north Wales, for treatment. The 16-year-old girl told the air crew she had thought she would drown, the statement said.

Prince William, known to his RAF comrades as Flight Lt. Wales, has been stationed at a search-and-rescue base on the remote Welsh island of Anglesey since 2010, and lives there with Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

William’s grandfather, Prince Philip, was admitted to a hospital in Scotland on Wednesday after the recurrence of a bladder infection and continues to receive treatment there.

Buckingham Palace said Friday that Philip was making progress but that doctors had advised rest.

UK’s Prince Philip ‘making progress,’ palace says

Prince Philip: The man behind the queen

CNN’s Susannah Palk contributed to this report.