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Charles joins in St David's Day celebrations

March 1, 2004
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The Prince of Wales spent Monday visiting an Army regiment which his son Harry may one day serve with. Charles flew into RAF St Athan to welcome home soldiers from the Welsh Guards, who had just returned from a tour of duty in Northern Ireland.

Dressed in his full military uniform, the Prince received the Royal Salute when he stepped off his helicopter into the morning sun. In keeping with the regiment's St David's Day traditions, he then presented leeks to the senior officers.

The Welsh Guards, which was founded exactly 89 year ago, has recently moved to the RAF base in southern Wales. It is the first time in its history the regiment has been permanently installed on Welsh soil. "To celebrate our anniversary means a great deal to us," said Major Rupert Thorneloe. "To celebrate it in Wales for the first time since 1915 is very special and to have our Colonel here is icing on the cake."

Before leaving the future king also presented some military memorabilia to 13-year-old Gareth Jones, who helped decorate the Christmas tree at Clarence House a few months ago. "He's a nice bloke but it was nerve-wracking," said the youngster, who is battling leukaemia. "I met the prince with a group from Llandough Hospital at Christmas and helped him decorate his tree. He remembered me."

Later in the day Charles moved on to the town of Cowbridge, where he received a warm reception from local families. Having swapped his military uniform for a simple blue suit, the Prince also let his hair down by enjoying a glass of Welsh whisky.

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Photo: ©
The Prince was reunited with leukemia-sufferer Gareth Jones, who paid a visit to Clarence House three months ago. "He's a nice bloke but it was nerve-wracking," said the 13-year-old afterwardsPhoto: © PAy
Photo: ©
Later in the day he shed his military uniform and donned a smart suit to meet families in CowbridgePhoto: © PA

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