Prince and Duchess visit Essex troops

THE Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall yesterday met the wife and family of one of the Colchester paratroopers killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq earlier this week.

THE Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall yesterday met the wife and family of one of the Colchester paratroopers killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq earlier this week.

The couple met Captain Richard Holmes' wife during a visit to the Parachute Regiment's base at the Essex town's garrison.

Prince Charles also expressed his sympathies to other soldiers in the regiment during a two-hour tour.

Captain Holmes, 28, of Winchester, Hants, and Private Lee Ellis, 23, of Manchester, died when their patrol was ambushed in Al Amarah on Tuesday.

Both were members of the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment.

The Royal couple were visiting members of the 3rd Battalion prior to their deployment to southern Afghanistan in the next few weeks.

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A spokeswoman for the Prince said his meeting with Mrs Holmes had been private.

She added the family of Private Ellis had been unable to travel to Colchester to meet the Royal couple.

The Prince was visiting the battalion in his role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment.

He was dressed in army fatigues.

The duchess wore a military green shawl over a dark tartan jacket.

She had a green skirt and faun boots, wore brown woollen gloves and carried a black quilted leather designer handbag on a silver chain.

The couple arrived at Hyderabad Barracks, home of 3 Para, at around 11am yesterday and visited the officers' mess.

It was here than Charles met Captain Holmes' wife, Kate, who he married shortly before he left for Iraq in October.

They were then introduced to around 30 soldiers who were in preparation for their next tour.

Later the couple met paratroopers and their families and the Prince made a private speech during which he told soldiers that their task in Afghanistan was difficult but they were “making a difference”.

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