The Prince of Wales travelled to Surrey on Tuesday, in his capacity as Colonel of the Welsh Guards, to hand out medals to those who had returned from tours of duty.
Prince Charles, in full uniform, greeted soldiers from The Prince of Wales Company, on their return from Afghanistan. Before the presentation, the Welsh Guards marched on parade square at the Elizabeth Barracks, in Woking. After the parade of soldiers, Charles presented the Operational Services Medals to the men as recognition for their service.
The future King has been colonel of the Welsh Guards since 1975.
Having been deployed to Afghanistan last year, the regiment was sent to provide security for the coalition mentors and advisors. Additional regiments – the Number 2 Company, the Number 3 Company, the Headquarters Company and the Support Company soldiers – received their medals from some of the other high-ranking officials in the army. The Ministry of Defence awards the medals for service in support of the post 2001 Afghan War.
The Welsh Guards are a light infantry battalion, who were established by King George V, in 1915. Based in Pirbright, Surrey, the Welsh Guards have played a part in the majority of British Army campaigns since World War I. Traditionally, the Guards were not only frontline soldiers but they take part in state, ceremonial and public duties as well. They are trained for Light Mechanised operations and its ranks are comprised of over 90% Welsh Heritage.
As the Senior Regiment of the Guard, The Prince of Wales Company are also known as “the jamboys”. The nickname “jamboys” refers to the fact that generally the tallest men in the battalion were selected for the POW Company and were given an extra ration of jam for nourishment during the first World War.
After the ceremony, Prince Charles spent some time meeting the men from the battalions and members of their families. One of the servicemen, Samuel George Parry, expressed: “Today was a fantastic experience and it was really nice to have friends and family there as well.”
At 23 years old, Samuel decided to join the Welsh Guards because he had been feeling like he wanted a challenge and was looking for a different kind of experience.
He added: “I wanted to fill my early years with interesting things that I could look back and be proud of. In Afghanistan, we were in charge of the vehicles and were meeting with the government, helping them to develop their country.”
As a part of the Number 2 Company, Samuel served in Afghanistan for four months.
Prince Charles spent quite some time happily conversing with the soldiers and their families. The Prince’s own son Prince Harry, served two tours of duty in Iraq, so he knows from experience what the parents have gone through as well, having a child away in combat.