Their Royal Highnesses are connected to over 30 units from the British and Commonwealth Armed Forces

The Armed Forces

Both The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are committed to supporting the men and women of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, together with their families and support services.

Vimy Ridge Centenary Commemorations

On Sunday 9th April 2017, The Prince of Wales, in his capacity as Crown Prince of Canada, attended the Canadian Government led events marking the Centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. This famous Canadian battle is the most strongly remembered WW1 event for most Canadians, and formed the centre piece of four years of Canadian WW1 centenary commemorations. 

His Royal Highness attended the day with Their Royal Highnesses Prince William and Prince Harry, the Canadian Prime Minster and the French President. On arrival in France Their Royal Highnesses visited a Canadian WW1 trench system before travelling to the stunning Vimy Ridge memorial. They were received by a Canadian Guard of Honour, before joining an open air service with around 20,000 invited guests in glorious spring sunshine. During the service The Prince of Wales delivered a reading and laid a wreath. Following this, Their Royal Highnesses spent time mingling with guests before attending a reception for Canadian Veterans, serving members of the Canadian Armed forces, and Canadian students who had been conducting volunteer work at the Vimy Ridge site. His Royal Highness is Colonel-in-Chief of seven Canadian Army Regiments, each of which were represented at the reception. 

Victory came at an unbearably heavy cost. This was, and remains, the single bloodiest day in Canadian military history. Yet Canadians displayed a strength of character and commitment to one another that is still evident today. They did not waver. This was Canada at its best; the Canadians at Vimy embodied the “True North Strong and Free.”

The Prince of Wales, speaking
at the commemorations

Parachute Regiment 40th anniversary

2017 marked 40 years since The Prince of Wales became Colonel-in-Chief of The Parachute Regiment on 11th June 1977. To celebrate this milestone, His Royal Highness was invited to visit the Regiment in Colchester, on Wednesday 23rd June 2017. His Royal Highness famously underwent military parachute training upon becoming Colonel-in-Chief of this Regiment, completing a number of parachute jumps at R.A.F. Brize Norton. He still wears the tactical recognition badge, denoting a service person has completed parachute training, on all of his uniforms. 

The visit started with a Regimental Parade, with elements of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Battalions all present. His Royal Highness presented medals and awards, took the salute from the marching contingent, and watched a daring display jump from the Red Devils Parachute Display Team, who parachuted onto the parade square. One of the team jumped with a flag displaying a large ’40’, which was subsequently folded and presented to His Royal Highness. After the parade, The Prince of Wales joined a photograph with all of the Commanding Officers during his 40 year tenure as Colonel-in-Chief. Following this, he took a short drive in a JACKAL armoured vehicle, and spent time meeting soldiers, officers and families from across the Regiment.

Cenotaph Service

Every year, Members of The Royal Family attend the Cenotaph Service in Whitehall, on Remembrance Sunday, to remember all those Britain has lost in armed conflict. This tradition dates back to the end of WW1, when the armistice came into effect at 1100hrs on 11th November 1918. In 2017, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall attended the Service along with Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, His Royal Highness Prince Harry, and other Members of The Royal Family. 

This year, The Queen asked The Prince of Wales to lay the Nation’s wreath on her behalf. as she watched on from the balcony of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. His Royal Highness was wearing the formal dress uniform of a Marshal of the Royal Air Force, a rank which he has held since 16th June 2012. The Cenotaph service in 2018, due to be held on Sunday 11th November, will be particularly special as it will mark the centenary of the armistice.

Passchendaele Centenary Commemorations

Having attended the centenary commemorations for The Somme in 2016, The Prince of Wales also represented Her Majesty at the U.K. led Battle of Passchendaele centenary events on Monday 1st July 2017, in Belgium. He was accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and His Royal Highness Prince Harry. The senior Belgian representatives were Their Majesties The King and Queen of the Belgians. 

The day started with a magnificent and touching open air service at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Tyne Cot. During the service His Royal Highness conducted a reading and laid a wreath at the Stone of Remembrance in memory of those lost, on all sides, in the Battle of Passchendaele. Present at the cemetery were a Guard of Honour drawn from the Irish Guards, as well as the band of the Welsh Guards, of whom His Royal Highness is Colonel-in-Chief, and the Royal Air Force band. The service was concluded with a poignant fly-past from a WW1 biplane, which dropped poppies on the congregation below. Following the service His Royal Highness travelled to Passchendaele Memorial Park, where he formally opened a Royal Engineer WW1 dugout, as well as the UK poppy garden. The Prince of Wales then met members of the public from both Britain and Belgium before attending a Welsh Government event in nearby Langemark which highlighted the specific contribution made by Welsh Regiments during the Battle of Passchendaele.

Royal Military Tattoo Edinburgh

The U.K. Ministry of Defence branded 2017 as the year of the Royal Navy. As such, the Royal Navy were given the lead on the military’s involvement in the Royal Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle. Due to his close personal connections to the Royal Navy, The Prince of Wales attended the Tattoo for the first time on Thursday 16th August. He was accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, who was also attending in an official capacity for the first time. 

On arrival at the Palace of Holyrood House, Their Royal Highnesses enjoyed a private performance from a number of key acts from the Tattoo on the forecourt of the Palace. Later that evening Their Royal Highnesses arrived at the Castle and were greeted by senior Naval representatives and a collection of Clan chiefs. His Royal Highness attended the event wearing full Royal Navy Admiral of the Fleet, Mess Dress, and performed the key role of ‘salute-taker’ during the performance. After the Tattoo, Their Royal Highnesses joined a reception where they met a number of the key acts, including performers from France, the United States, and Japan. His Royal Highness made a speech, including a traditional Gaelic toast, and was presented with a number of gifts from the Clan chiefs. 

These huge aircraft carriers represent a new era in our naval history.”

HRH The Duchess of Rothesay at the naming ceremony

Naming Ceremony of HMS Prince of Wales

2017 marked a momentous year for the Royal Navy; the two Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, both reaching critical milestone events in their journey to enter active service. These phenomenal ships are the biggest ever to be built for Royal Navy, and are truly world-leading in every regard. HMS Queen Elizabeth made her maiden voyage from Rosyth to Portsmouth in August and Friday 8th September 2017 saw the official naming ceremony for HMS Prince of Wales. 

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrived at Rosyth Naval Dockyard to be greeted by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Phillip Jones, and a Guard of Honour drawn from the ship’s company. His Royal Highness attended the day in his capacity as Admiral of the Fleet, wearing the corresponding Royal Naval uniform accordingly. During the ceremony Her Royal Highness made a speech, noting the long standing historical connections between her family and the Royal Navy, before initiating the smashing of a bottle onto the ship’s bow. In doing so, Her Royal Highness became Lady Patron of the ship; beginning a relationship that will last for decades to come. After the ceremony, Their Royal Highnesses met the few surviving Veterans from the previous HMS Prince of Wales (a Battleship sunk in the Pacific during WW2), members of the ship’s company and their families, as well as civilian engineers and craftsmen who had been working on the ship for a number of years.

As Lady Sponsor, I take great pride in my own personal connections with the Royal Navy. For almost ten years now, I have been Commodore in Chief of the Royal Navy Medical Service and of the naval chaplaincy service. I can also boast six Admirals among my forebears, who fought with varying degrees of distinction for King and country throughout the 18th century. Naturally, however, my closest connection with our great Navy is through another Admiral, my husband, another Prince of Wales. So I already feel a particular affection for this ship.”

HRH The Duchess of Rothesay in her
speech at the naming of HMS POW

Highlights 2017/18