Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kate in command: Duchess of Cambridge does dress uniform as she carries out first military role as a royal

By Daily Mail Reporter

Eyes front: Members of the Irish Guards are presented with their medals by the Duchess of Cambridge

The Duchess of Cambridge took on her first military role as a royal today as she handed out operational medals to members of the Irish Guards.

Alongside the Duke of Cambridge, who is Colonel of the Irish Guards, Kate presented medals to soldiers who have recently returned from serving in Afghanistan.

A royal aide said the Duchess was very pleased to be undertaking the role for a regiment 'so close to her husband's heart'.

Honouring bravery: The Duchess works her way along the line up of members of the of the Irish Guards at the Victoria Barracks

High praise: Private Nadine Gwendu, said meeting the Duchess was ¿like a dream come true¿ and that she is 'down to earth'

The 1st Battalion Irish Guards returned in April from a six-month tour in Afghanistan where they were deployed to 22 different locations in Helmand Province, tasked with developing the Afghan Army.

Six soldiers returned home two weeks before the royal couple's wedding day and had ceremonial duties to perform in London on the day.

The Duke of Cambridge spoke of his ‘pride and humility’ today as he presented the medals.

Well heeled: Kate wore a navy military-style dress believed to be Burberry Prorsum with a matching fascinator. She adorned her dress with a gold shamrock brooch loaned to her from the regiment

Perfect pair: Today was the first time that the royal couple have visited the regiment since William became Colonel of the Irish Guards in February

He emphasised his respect by saying he was ‘proud’ to be the soldiers’ colonel and was ‘humbled’ by the thought of their sacrifices.

‘I can only imagine what the campaign medals you receive today must mean to you,' he said.

‘Along with thousands of others back home, I followed your tour in Afghanistan with a mounting sense of awe.

‘Over the years and decades ahead when you look at this medal, I'm sure it will bring back so many conflicting memories.

‘Sadness for those who did not return, and thoughts of their families who received their Elizabeth Crosses today.’

On parade: The medal ceremony was the couple's last engagement before they go to Canada at the end of the month

Warm reception: William also spent time talking to the soldiers who attended the parade

It is the first time that the couple have visited the regiment since William became Colonel of the Irish Guards in February.

He also wore the regiment's striking red uniform on his wedding day.

William is the Irish Guards' first royal colonel and its Colonel-in-Chief is the Queen.

The regiment was formed on April 1, 1900, by order of Queen Victoria is response to the courageous actions of Irish regiments in the Second Boer War.

Quietly confident: Catherine appears to have become more self-assured with every public engagement she has carried out since her wedding

A dog's life: The Duchess of Cambridge watches Conmael, the Irish Wolfhound mascot march past at the Victoria Barracks

The unit was heavily involved in the ceremonial duties but its servicemen are also fighting soldiers.

Before the medal parade, at Victoria Barracks in Windsor, William and Kate met privately with the families of three fallen servicemen and the Duke presented them posthumous Elizabeth Cross medals.

Guardsman Christopher Davies, Major Matthew Collins and Lance Sergeant Mark Burgan were all killed in action in Afghanistan.

Major Collins, 38, from Blackwell and Lance Sergean Burgan, 28, from Liverpool were killed in an explosion just six days before they were due to return home from their tour.

The pair died on March 23 when their vehicle was caught in a blast from an IED (improvised explosive device).

Good giggle: The Duchess of Cambridge jokes with soldiers as she presents the 1st Battalion Irish Guards with their medals

Crown jewels: Kate wore a gold linked bracelet with a circular tag engraved with the letter 'C' for Catherine

Guardsman Davies, 22, from St Helens, died from a gunshot wound on 17 November 17 last year which he sustained during an ambush by insurgents in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province. His brother John Davies serves in the same battalion.

The royal couple handed out approximately 50 medals to the soldiers.

They both gave medals to two men wounded in the same blast that killed Major Collins and Lance Sergeantt Burgan.

William awarded Guardsman Manneh, who lost both his legs and his left arm, and Kate handed a medal to Lance Corporal Scott Yarrington, 26, who had to have both his legs amputated as a result of the explosion.

Royal duty: Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge arrive for a medal ceremony at Victoria Barracks, in Windsor, this morning

Changing faces: The Duchess of Cambridge adopted various poses from serious to smiling

Kate was wearing a navy military-style dress thought to be Burberry Prorsum adorned with gold buttons and a matching fascinator.

She also sported a special gold shamrock, a brooch loaned to her from the regiment, which has been worn by the Queen Mother and Princess Anne.

The Duchess of Cambridge made her way down the line of troops asking each of them about their experiences on the front line.

Royal couples: Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were also on royal duty as the pair attended celebrations for Armed Forces Day in Edinburgh, Scotland

Private Nadine Gwendu, 25, from Newhaven, Brighton, who is originally from Zimbabwe, said meeting the Duchess was ‘like a dream come true’.

‘Now I have seen her, and she has shaken my hand it is something different,’ he said.

‘She was very calm and down to earth, you wouldn't think she is a duchess because she is so down to earth.

Musical entertainment: Celebrations for the Armed Forces Day parade in Edinburgh included a marching band

Out in force: Veterans and troops march along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh in celebration of Armed Forces Day

‘She asked me what it was like living with so many men in Afghanistan and I told her that it was all right because I was like a priority to them. From the time I joined everyone has been great, from the Guardsmen to the highest rank.

‘Also it was so important for William, the Colonel, to present our medals and we all really appreciate that.’

Six soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, swapped their combat uniforms for ceremonial dress participate in the Royal wedding, with a handful returning to the UK just seven days earlier.

Red, white and blue: The Red Arrows fly past during Armed Forces Day celebrations in Edinburgh where Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were in attendance

Air show: Pilots from The Red Arrows, showcased their aerobatic skills during Armed Forces Day in Edinburgh

Wearing their famous bearskin hats and red tunics, the soldiers formed a Queen's Guard when William tied the knot with Kate Middleton on April 29.

Sergeant Paul Paterson, Regimental Police Sergeant, Irish Guards, said it was an honour to take part in the event, even if it was a quick turn-around after his return from Afghanistan.

The 33-year-old, from Liverpool, said: ‘We only had seven days from the last man leaving Afghanistan to prepare. We had to get our bearskins, tunics and boots ready and to practise all the drill movements.

‘But it is an honour to be a part of any royal historical event - with the Duke's ties to the Micks it made it extra special.

‘It was also an honour to serve in Afghanistan but the Royal wedding will be talked about for years.

Political presence: David Cameron, left, watched the event in Edinburgh with Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, right

The Duke of Cambridge paid tribute today to the ‘extraordinary’ soldiers like Sergeant Paterson,who within days of returning from fighting in Afghanistan, took part in his marriage celebrations.

William said: ‘As Catherine and I rode through the centre gate of Buckingham Palace on our wedding day, there you were, formed up as the Queen's Guard with your commanding officer at your head.

‘If ever there was an illustration of why the Foot Guards, and the Micks in particular, are special, that was it.

‘To exchange combat kit for ceremonial uniform in the space of two weeks is nothing short of remarkable.

‘To be amongst the most proficient in the world wearing both is just simply extraordinary.’

source: dailymail

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