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Prince Charles pays Boxing Day tribute to troops serving abroad

26 DECEMBER 2012

Prince Charles has spoken to British forces fighting in Afghanistan to tell them that the nation owes them "an everlasting debt of gratitude".

He thanked them for their "fortitude and relentless courage".

In a pre-recorded message broadcast on radio on Boxing Day, he said that all troops serving "in far off lands" were in his thoughts and prayers.


Charles



He joked that he had been sent a "very rare and precious letter" from Prince Harry, serving in Afghanistan.

His  son is an Apache helicopter pilot, serving as part of the 100-strong 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment, Army Air Corps in Helmand province.

The Prince's broadcast was aired on the British Forces Broadcasting Service radio on the Total Ops Connection programme, broadcast across the world from Camp Bastion.

He said: "I wanted to pay tribute to the extraordinary contribution made by those of you who belong to our Armed Forces, in all sorts of different parts of the world.

"Nowhere is your fortitude and relentless courage more clearly on display than in Afghanistan, where your resilience, patience and determination to see the job through - usually in impossibly difficult conditions and circumstances - is, quite simply, humbling."

The heir to the throne is colonel-in-chief of a number of regiments serving in Afghanistan and he said he knew about the hardships troops face because of the regular reports from his units - and the occasional contact with Harry.

He said: "I am well aware of the discomfort and privations you all endure with seemingly endless reserves of good humour.

"In addition to the intense heat and dust of the summer and the freezing winters, you face the constant, terrifying threat of IEDs (improvised explosive devices), attacks from rockets, grenades and small arms fire almost every day - and sometimes these attacks come from infiltrators hidden among those who are supposed to be working alongside you as allies.

"And yet you all seem to bounce back in an almost unbelievable way, despite the setbacks and vicious insurgent attacks."

Charles' other son, William, also serves with the armed forces - as a search and rescue pilot with the RAF.

He said: "With two sons currently serving in the Armed Forces, one of whom is with you all out there, I really do have at least some understanding of what your loved ones on the 'home front' are going through."


Audio Message recorded by The Prince of Wales for BFBS



To all of the Armed Forces on duty and serving away from home in far off lands, I wanted to send you a message to let you know that you are all very much in my thoughts and prayers at this time of year.

I also wanted to pay tribute to the extraordinary contribution made by those of you who belong to our Armed Forces, in all sorts of different parts of the world. Nowhere is your fortitude and relentless courage more clearly on display than in Afghanistan, where your resilience, patience and determination to see the job through – usually in impossibly difficult conditions and circumstances is, quite simply, humbling.

As a result of the regular reports I receive from my Regiments serving in Afghanistan (and even occasionally from family members!) I am well aware of the discomfort and privations you all endure with seemingly endless reserves of good humour. In addition to the intense heat and dust of the Summer and the freezing Winters, you face the constant, terrifying threat of I.E.D.s, attacks from rockets, grenades and small arms fire almost every day – and sometimes these attacks come from infiltrators hidden among those who are supposed to be working alongside you as allies. And yet you all seem to bounce back in an almost unbelievable way, despite the setbacks and vicious insurgent attacks.

Whether you are in Camp Bastion, Lashkar Gar or one of the many isolated and incredibly austere patrol bases, you all have a vital role to play in an enormous team effort. Teamwork, comradeship and collective endeavour for the greater good are the qualities that lie at the heart of everything you do.

With two sons currently serving in the Armed Forces, one of whom is with you all out there, I really do have at least some understanding of what your loved ones on the “home front” are going through. They are clearly missing you deeply, particularly at this time of year, and they are constantly thinking and worrying about you.

I daresay in some ways it may be slightly easier for those serving away from home, with their mind on the job in hand, than those left behind, because of the constant worry. In this regard, perhaps there is some small consolation in occasional opportunities to speak on the welfare telephone, to skype, to post on Facebook, to send E-blueys or, in the case of my younger son, to receive a very rare and precious letter in answer to mine! And don’t forget that a letter will one day be a very valuable historical document, treasured by families and by those who come after us.

Finally, I would just like to reinforce a point that I have been trying to make for many years now, that our country is incredibly lucky to have people like yourselves and that we owe you an everlasting debt of gratitude for all that you do and mean to us. I can only send you my heartfelt thanks and special blessings for this Christmas and for the New Year ahead.

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