1 MAY 2008

While Prince William's secret trip to Afghanistan this week was hailed as a success by Clarence House, his return flight was shrouded in sadness. The heir-to-the-throne helped fly home the body of a 22-year-old serviceman killed in action.

The Prince, who upon arrival at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire took some time to talk with the grieving family of deceased soldier Robert Pearson, is said to feel "honoured" to have helped. Trooper Pearson, who served with the Queen's Royal Lancers, was killed by a hidden land mine explosion.

William spent three hours at a coalition airbase in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Sunday afternoon. "It means he can look soldiers in the face now, which is very good since one day he'll be our Commander in Chief," said an officer who met him there.

Photo: ©
After embarking on a secret mission to Afghanistan this week, the Prince helped fly the body of a soldier killed in action back home to the UK Photo: © PA Photos Click on photo to enlarge
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