Prince Charles meets Private Derby the ram as he visits the Mercian Regiment

The Prince of Wales was in Salisbury on Friday at the Bulford Camp to visit the Merican Regiment, as Charles celebrates 40 years as Colonel-in-Chief of the Cheshire Regiment.

The Mercian Regiment was established in 2007 with the merger of the Cheshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiments. Charles has been Colonel-in-Chief of the Mercian Regiment for 10 years now, although his connection to the Cheshire Regiment pre-dates that appointment.

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prince charles is greeted by private derby the ram as he visits the mercian regiment (clarence house)

Upon arrival at Bulford Camp, the heir-to-the-throne was greeted by the Regiment’s mascot, Private Derby XXXII, who is a Swaledale Ram, a Mercian tradition which dates back to 1858.

Private Derby appeared to be quite taken with Prince Charles, who took time to pet him before moving on and shaking hands with members of the regiment.

The Mercian troops, some of whom have recently returned to the UK from Iraq and South Sudan, lined up for inspection. The soldiers were wearing oak leaves on their berets – it is tradition for Mercian soldiers to do so in the presence of Royalty. This tradition is said to stem from 1743, when the regiment protected King George II in the Battle of Dettingen with an oak tree.

the mercian regiment wore oak leaves in their berets to meet the prince of wales (clarence house)

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The Prince of Wales, wearing military uniform himself, presented medals to some of the soldiers who have recently returned from overseas. Charles served in both the RAF and the Royal Navy in the 1970s as a pilot, rising to the rank of Lieutenant and heading his own ship.

Charles then attended a reception in the Warrant Officers and Sergeants’ Mess, where he spent time chatting to officers, soldiers and their families.  As Colonel-in-Chief, The Queen’s eldest son also gave a short speech, saying: “We owe all of you in the Regiment an enormous debt of gratitude for the service, and very often the sacrifice you provide.”

Charles speaks to soldiers and members of their families in the Bulford Camp (Clarence House)

prince charles chats to members of the regiment and their families (clarence house)

The Prince also told the soldiers how much he enjoyed visiting the Regiment, praising its family spirit, and apologised for his irregular visits, explaining that he is Colonel of quite a few regiments!

After the reception, The Prince of Wales ended his visit to the Bulford Camp by watching a demonstration of some of the Regiment’s equipment.

The delighted Prince was even able to take a test-ride in a Warrior Tracked Armoured Vehicle!

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Charles was also presented with a silver statuette, which includes a double-headed eagle with a crown, which is the regimental cap badge.

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