Her Royal Highness, Duchess of Cornwall, GCVO, CSM, PC arrived by helicopter at Normandy Barracks in Aldershot today to meet soldiers from the 4th Battalion The Rifles and some families of the 200 strong Battalion currently stationed in Iraq.
Eight buglers played a fanfare as the Duchess arrived escorted by Acting Battalion 2IC Major Mark Whitehouse and Regimental Quarter Master Serjeant, WO2 Graham Henry.
In her role as Royal Colonel, an appointment made by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Duchess paused to pay her respects and lay flowers at the memorial wall whilst reflecting upon the names carved into the stone belonging to fifteen 4 RIFLES soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice on operational duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Duchess presented Long Service and Good Conduct medals to six soldiers whilst their proud families watched and listened as the citations were read out and took photos on their mobile phones.
After receiving his medal from the Duchess of Cornwall, Sergeant Stuart Jackson said, "It’s an honour to be honest, it takes a long time to earn an LS&GC, I’ve been waiting a few months for this day to arrive. To have received the medal from Her Royal Highness makes it worthwhile and makes me proud of the service I have done".
Currently two hundred troops from 4 RIFLES are playing an important role in training and mentoring Iraqi soldiers in the fight against Islamic State. The Duchess listened intently to the brief on Operation SHADER presented by Major Whitehouse and details of the training programme which is being conducted at Al Asad air base west of Baghdad.
Staff Sergeant Simon Leporte, who has thirty years Army service under his belt said, "I was absolutely delighted and honoured that the Duchess of Cornwall presented me with my clasp for my Long Service and Good conduct medal".
During the visit, Her Royal Highness met the Unit Welfare Officer Captain Stephen Dickson and the wife of the Battalion’s Commanding Officer, Mrs Boswell to discuss issues that were affecting familes of soldiers serving abroad.
Major Whitehouse thanked Her Royal Highness for her kind visit and said, "It has been a pleasure to welcome you to Normandy Barracks for the first time".
After the formal proceedings were over, Her Royal Highness sipped tea and mingled with troops and their families. Before leaving she was presented with a small bouquet of flowers by eight year old Louisa Pengilly whose father, Major Steven Pengilly, is deployed in Iraq on Op SHADER.
Note: Members of the Rifles spell the rank of Sergeant with a 'J' (Serjeant). Those attached to the unit retain their traditional 'G' spelling.