Video/gallery: Prince Harry visits Suffolk airmen at RAF Honington in Bury St Edmunds
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Following a successful visit to the Suffolk Show earlier this year, Prince Harry made a return visit to the county today.
He praised an RAF squadron based sat Honington for the vital role the troops played in preparing for terrorist attacks in the UK.
He visited the airbase Bury St Edmunds to present a new standard - a historic and ceremonial flag - to No 26 Squadron RAF Regiment.
Harry, who spent Remembrance Sunday in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in honour of the fallen, was welcomed with a flyover by a Typhoon jet. He then inspected the troops ahead of a parade which he later told them was “fantastic”.
During the official handover of the standard, the 30-year-old Prince stopped to collect a hat which had blown off the head of a servicewoman in the blustery wind.
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Afterwards he spoke of No 26 Squadron’s role as a specialist counter-chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) unit.
In a speech in front of the squadron and their families, he said: “This role is vital to UK defence and civil response capabilities; is is also highly valued by Nato.
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“Alongside 27 Squadron, it is constantly committed at extremely high readiness to support the combined emergency service and military response to a CBRN terrorist incident in the UK.
“Indeed, such is the vital nature of this role that responsibility has been handed over to the remainder of the wing to allow the squadron to be on the parade.”
He added: “It is clear that every member of the squadron possesses the determination and professionalism to succeed, even in the most arduous of circumstances.
“Traits which have ensured the squadron’s success since its formation and that are embodied in this new standard and the proud history it represents.”
A standard is presented to RAF Regiment squadrons every quarter of a century and represents hundreds of years of history of service to the monarch and to the country.
A handover ceremony is something that most RAF troops only take part in once in their career.
Harry met both former and serving personnel from No 26 Regiment and their families at a reception in the base’s new heritage centre.
Corporal Tobias Jamieson, 26, said: “For the whole squadron it’s been quite an arduous four or five weeks training for this parade.
“The Standard Parade only happens every 25 years so it’s a pretty historic day for the squadron that I’m proud and privileged to take part in.
“I spoke to His Royal Highness and he said ‘well done’. We’re all very honoured that he came today - especially because he’s in the Army and has been to Afghanistan, it feels more personal.”
Senior Aircraftman Richard Hislop said: “For His Royal Highness to take time out of his schedule to present our new standard is fantastic, a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
RAF Honington is the RAF’s centre of Force Protection and is the depot of the RAF Regiment - the ground-fighting force of the RAF.
The regiment protects air bases from attack and is trained in a wide range of protection roles.
The Queen appointed Harry to be Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington in October 2008.