The Duke of Cambridge has said “thank you” on behalf of the nation to Britain’s Armed Forces serving overseas this Christmas and paid tribute their commitment and sacrifices.

William’s words of praise came as he and wife Kate visited Cyprus for a whirlwind tour of a military base to meet RAF personnel and other UK forces deployed to the Mediterranean island.

After meeting air and ground crew from RAF Akrotiri and other forces in a hangar, William praised the efforts of Britain’s Armed Forces.

Royal visit to CyprusTouring a hangar at RAF Akrotiri (Andrew Matthews/PA)

He said “Thank you for your commitment and thank you for your sacrifices.

“We are in your debt and Catherine and I feel very lucky to be able to spend time with you today.”

Royal visit to CyprusThe Duchess of Cambridge enjoying the trip to Cyprus (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The couple came bearing Christmas gifts for RAF personnel from 11 Squadron, a Typhoon fighter unit based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and flying missions from the Cyprus base to combat Isis.

The Cambridges staged a festive party in the grounds of Kensington Palace on Tuesday for families from Coningsby and RAF Marham, and collected the presents from children, partners and grandparents.

The duke, a former RAF Search and Rescue helicopter pilot, said about the efforts of the military: “All of this work is done without fanfare. “You don’t seek praise for your contribution.

“It’s not about credit or recognition – for you, it’s just about service.

“But as we approach Christmas, Catherine and I feel strongly that praise for your work and recognition of your sacrifices is exactly what is due to you all.

Royal visit to CyprusThe Duke of Cambridge speaks at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“From my time in uniform, we both know a bit of what it feels like to balance your work commitments with your family life.

“You all put duty first, and so do your families, some of whom we had the chance to meet yesterday at a party at Kensington Palace.”