Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, officially welcomed home 4th Battalion The Rifles in Aldershot on Monday, as their Royal Colonel.
The Duchess was the guest of honour and the Inspecting Officer at the Battalion’s Muster Parade at Normandy Barracks, which marked the groups’ return from a four month deployment on Operation Shader in Iraq.
The battalion are the first British Army unit to deploy to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq’s western province of Al Anbar; their tasks included training and mentoring the Iraqi forces under the Building Partnership Capacity (BPC) program.
Camilla – wearing her regimental badge on her coat – inspected the parade as the Royal Colonel in the drizzly weather, but she – and the soldiers seemed in good spirits. Supporting with music were the Band of The Royal Logistic Corps providing the beat with The Corps of Bugles.
This was a second trip to Aldershot in three months for the future Queen, who met family members of deployed soldiers back in November. Then, she placed a posy on a memorial wall, which honours those killed in action, before attending a reception with soldiers and their families.
In a speech, Camilla said: “In the most difficult circumstances you have shown your usual skill and spirit, no matter what the circumstances, and I also know that this will have been enhanced by your irrepressible humour”.
“Speaking as an army officer’s daughter, may I say that I think sometimes the unsung heroes are the families.
“Your support has been vital over these past months, you have kept the home fires burning despite the constant concern for those whom you love so dearly. Thank you for your steadfast support.”
The commanding officer, commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Carl Boswell called it a ‘real privilege’ for Camilla to visit and mark the mens’ return.
Since 2006, the Duchess has been Royal Colonel of the 4th Battalion Rifles.