Wife of ‘Top Gun’ pilot finally granted entry to UK after five months

Harry Cockburn
Harriers taking off at sea: Rupert Nichol/Rex Features

An American woman who was unable to enter the UK to be with her husband, a Royal Navy pilot, has finally had her visa application accepted, ending more than five months of uncertainty for the couple.

Marianne Rawlins and Commander Simon Rawlins married in the US in April, but the couple became separated a month later when Commander Rawlins received orders to return to the UK.

Ms Rawlins, a US citizen, submitted a visa application, but eventually became concerned after several months hearing no word on when she would be able to join her husband.

Commander Rawlins wrote a letter to The Telegraph to draw attention to the issue, and Ms Rawlins subsequently told the paper she had been left homeless and with few possessions, after having sent most of them to the UK ahead of joining her husband.

But the Home Office has confirmed she may now join her husband in Britain. In a statement the department said: “We have received all the information we requested to process Mrs Rawlins’ application and we have today issued her visa. We have also contacted her to apologise for any inconvenience.”

Ms Rawlins said she was “very grateful” for a wave of support the couple had received, but had previously expressed frustration that the uncertainty had rendered her “a prisoner in my own country”.

She said she had seen people from other countries have their visas processed “within weeks”, and said officials in Britain were “numb to the idea that this actually affects lives”.

Speaking to The Telegraph she said: “Agreeing to move to the UK was a difficult decision for me because my family in the US is very small and incredibly close,” she added.

“I was willing to make these sacrifices because Simon’s job as a Royal Navy pilot is etched into the very fibre of who he is.

“When he got his orders to move to the UK...I never imagined the visa component would be this difficult.

“He is completely alone. He doesn’t want to decorate the house without his wife, so he sits in his empty home, surrounded by boxes filled with wedding gifts that are still wrapped.”

Commander Rawlins is reportedly nicknamed “Top Gun”, and has clocked up a record number of flying hours in Afghanistan.

He detailed some of his exploits in an interview with The Telegraph, describing aerial manoeuvres he used while fighting, including flying his Harrier jet upside down, while flying up the side of a mountain at more than 500mph in a bid to scare off Taliban fighters.