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Queen visits Kent barracks today

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Audio: Reporter Jamie
Stephens, who has been at Invicta Barracks for the royal visit

The Queen, accompanied by the Commanding Officer of 36
Engineers, Lt Col Simon Hulme, inspected the troops, before meeting
the 5,000th Queen’s Gurkha Engineer, 19-year-old Spr Bal Budha
Magar, from west Nepal.

She also reviewed the passing out of 63 Training Party Queen’s
Gurkha Engineers.

She then commissioned three Late Entry Gurkha Officers in a
traditional ceremony involving them putting their swords on tables
in the centre of the parade ground, draped in Union Flags.

The Queen visits Invicta Park Barracks, Maidstone. The Queen commissions three Queen's Gurkha Engineer Late Entry Officers.
The Queen visits Invicta Park Barracks, Maidstone. The Queen commissions three Queen's Gurkha Engineer Late Entry Officers.

The officers, who had all worked their way through the ranks to
the rank of Officer and completed a course at Sandhurst were: Capt
Ashokkumar Gurung; Capt Dirgha and Capt Kamalbahadur Khapung
Limbu.

The parade ground was surrounded by the families of the
soldiers. Among the dignitaries were the Lord Lieutenant of Kent,
Sir Allan Willett; the Chief of General Staff, General Sir Peter
Wall and Lt General Sir David Bill.

Local dignitaries representing the County Town included the
Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Eric Hotson, and Maidstone and the Weald
MP, Helen Grant (Con), along with the Chief Constable of Kent, Ian
Learmonth.

The Queen visits Invicta Park Barracks, Maidstone.
The Queen visits Invicta Park Barracks, Maidstone.

Following the ceremony, the Queen visited a hangar, where she
saw demonstrations of some of the regiments’ capabilities.

They included soldiers displaying their engineering equipment
and skills.

The first in line to present to the Queen and the dignitaries
was L Cpl Kanaiyalal Thapa, who held the Queen’s interest for some
time.

He said: “The Queen asked me if we used all this equipment in UK
as well as in Afghanistan.

The Queen visits Invicta Park Barracks, Maidstone.
The Queen visits Invicta Park Barracks, Maidstone.

"She was very nice and seemed interested.”

She also saw a display of troops from 36 Engineers searching for
explosive devices, which is to become the main role of the
regiment.

It will be renamed as the 36 Engineer Regiment (Search) and will
become the Army’s specialist regiment for clearing improvised
explosive devices for the next five years.

The Queen watched as soldiers demonstrated how they would search
for devices in sand, as they would in Afghanistan.

Among the regiment’s responsibilities will be providing search
support for the 2012 London Olympics.

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