Royalty and statesmen




By mislaying his machine gun while preparing for an exercise in Wales the Prince may have blotted his otherwise exemplary military record
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31 OCTOBER 2006

There's no doubt he's been a model cadet throughout his army training, but Prince William may have forfeited his chance to walk away with Sandhurst's top award just weeks before he was due to pass out with an exemplary record.

The young soldier had been mooted as a likely contender for receiving the coveted Sword of Honour, awarded to the outstanding student of each course at the miltary academy. But after losing his machine gun while preparing for an exercise in Wales this week 24-year-old Wills will have faced a severe dressing down from his superiors.

Prince Charles' elder son was so worried about the missing weapon he even borrowed a friend's bike to scour the campus for two hours trying to find it, but he returned to the firing ranges empty handed. "He was given his SA80 rifle, the weapon that is personally assigned to him throughout his time at Sandhurst, but also signed out an LSW as he needed to ensure he was fully familiarised with it," said a source.

"All of the cadets, including the Prince, were given a full briefing first thing in the morning, but it seems that he mislaid it some time after that. William was really panicking as he knew he was in serious trouble."

The gun was later handed in by another cadet. A Sandhurst spokesman confirmed there had been an incident. "Officer Cadet Wales' weapon was picked up and used by another cadet who handed it back a couple of hours later," said the miltary academy's representative. "So it wasn't really missing at all."

Nevertheless, misplacing a weapon is looked on seriously by the army and it remains to be seen whether it will cost Prince William the chance to win the Sword of Honour.

Whatever the result, his family will no doubt be proud of his achievements during the last year. It is thought that his brother Harry has asked special permission to attend William's passing out parade, and his grandmother the Queen has already agreed to take the ceremony. His father and the Duchess of Cornwall are also likely to be present.

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