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HRH Prince Charles presents medals to 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles at Shorncliffe Barracks, Folkestone

By Sam Williams

There was a lot of colour, a lot of emotion and a lot of pride in Folkestone today, following a special visit from the Prince of Wales.

His Royal Highness flew into the Shorncliffe Barracks at lunchtime to honour the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (1RGR), for which he is colonel-in-chief.

After arriving by helicopter, the Prince was greeted by The Queen's Truncheon party, before making his way along a red carpet - which had been carefully swept - and taking the Royal Salute.

Prince Charles during his visit to the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles at the Sir John Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe on Tuesday. Picture: Chris Davey. (13594040)
Prince Charles during his visit to the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles at the Sir John Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe on Tuesday. Picture: Chris Davey. (13594040)

Hundreds of soldiers, including two companies of 1RGR, one company of the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment plus a number of attached personnel, were then presented with Operational Service Medals.

Prince Charles, dressed in his field marshal uniform, presented medals to 40 of those on parade, while senior officers presented to the subsequent ranks.

The medals were presented following the regiments return in May from a tour of Kabul on Operation TORAL - the UK’s contribution to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Prince Charles takes the Royal Salute during his visit to the barracks. Picture: Chris Davey
Prince Charles takes the Royal Salute during his visit to the barracks. Picture: Chris Davey
The1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles on parade. Picture: Chris Davey. (13594037)
The1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles on parade. Picture: Chris Davey. (13594037)

HRH then presented three major regimental awards during his visit: The Prince of Wales’s Kukri - which was presented to WO2 Mukunda Rajali -, the Tuker Award and the Slim Award.

He was then decorated with a Mala, the traditional Nepalese flower garland around his neck, in the Regimental colours of green, black and red, before meeting with families and friends of the soldiers.

Music was heard throughout the day from the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas, while children played on in the background. Food and drink tents were also set up.

After joining in for the command group photographs, HRH made his way on stage to cut a 'silver anniversary' cake, specially baked by the Gurkhas’ own chefs.

Prince Charles makes the presentation to WO2 Mukunda Rajali. Picture: Chris Davey
Prince Charles makes the presentation to WO2 Mukunda Rajali. Picture: Chris Davey
Prince Charles meets families of The 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles. Picture: Chris Davey
Prince Charles meets families of The 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles. Picture: Chris Davey

It was made to celebrate the 25th year since the Royal Gurkha Rifles was formed from four Gurkha Rifles Regiments.

The 2nd Battalion is currently based in Brunei, and the reformation of a 3rd Battalion was announced earlier this year.

Before departing the barracks - two hours after his arrival - the Prince signed the visitors book and received a gift, a cushion.

And his visit clearly meant a lot to the soldiers.

The Prince cuts the 25th anniversary cake. Picture: Chris Davey
The Prince cuts the 25th anniversary cake. Picture: Chris Davey

Pawan Bucha Magar, a rifleman with the 1RGR, met with the Prince when he presented him with his medal.

Mr Magar, who just returned to Folkestone after serving six months in Afghanistan, joined the British Army in 2016 following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

He said: “I am one of the luckiest people.

HRH was presented with a cushion at the end of his visit. Picture: Chris Davey
HRH was presented with a cushion at the end of his visit. Picture: Chris Davey

"Today I received first medal in my career and it was presented to me by Prince Charles.

"He spoke to me and asked me questions, he asked my name and when I joined the army.

"I’m feeling very proud today.”

The 1RGR and attached units were in Afghanistan for seven months between November and May for Operation TORAL and provided a ring of security around the NATO Coalition partners in several locations across the city.

In addition, they provided a safe military armed escort service to advisors and mentors using armoured vehicles.

Prince Charles has been colonel in chief of The Royal Gurkha Rifles since 1994.

He last met members of the regiment in 2017 when he presented Operational Service medals to soldiers who had also returned from Afghanistan.

But Prince Charles was not the only royal to visit Kent in the past week.

On Friday, his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited Dover for the naming ceremony of Saga's new ship, Spirit of Discovery.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

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