The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived in Cyprus for a whirlwind visit to personally thank British forces for the sacrifices they make over Christmas.

Thousands of military personnel will be separated from their families during the festive period and William and Kate have flown to RAF Akrotiri on the Mediterranean island to honour their commitment.

The couple arrived bearing Christmas gifts for members of 11 Squadron, a Typhoon fighter unit based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, who fly missions from the Cyprus base to combat IS.

The Cambridges hosted a 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.

Royal visit to CyprusThe Duchess of Cambridge is greeted at RAF Akrotiri by military dignitaries (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A line of military dignitaries were waiting to greet the duke and duchess when they arrived at the base on the RAF Voyager ministerial jet, including Akrotiri’s station commander, Group Captain Chris Snaith.

During the festive period there will be 11,000 sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines deployed on operations.

Service personnel have been sent on 30 operations in 35 countries across the globe from Somalia and South Sudan to Kuwait and Ukraine.