The Duchess of Cornwall visits Hampshire


The Duchess of Cornwall visited the family members of soldiers serving in Iraq and opened a new children’s cancer ward during a visit to Hampshire today.

The Duchess visits Southampton Children's Hospital
The Duchess visits Southampton Children's Hospital

To begin the day, Her Royal Highness, Royal Colonel, visited the base of 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 Rifles) in Aldershot. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Carl Boswell, 4 Rifles currently has 250 Riflemen based at Al Asad Air Base, 100 miles west of Baghdad, and are providing training support to the Iraqi Army.

Her Royal Highness was welcomed by a fanfare of buglers before placing a posy on the 4 Rifles Memorial Wall, which includes the names of those killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Duchess then attended a reception in the Sergeant's Mess with families, soldiers, battalion veterans and injured servicemen.

Her Royal Highness also presented five long-service medals and a Meritorious Service medal to serving Riflemen before signing a visitors' book.

The Duchess said to those gathered at the barracks: "What a pleasure it has been to come to these new barracks, everyone seems to be very settled here.

"The partners of those serving abroad are doing a great job of supporting each other."

Joanna Metcalf attended with her daughters, Ruby, 11, and Florence, four, while her husband, Sergeant Major Stephen Metcalf, is on deployment in Iraq.

The 36-year-old from Church Crookham, Hampshire, said: "It was really nice to meet The Duchess, it's nice to know that people do support us and it's nice for the children to meet someone important as it gives them an idea of the importance of their father's role."

The Duchess visits the 4 Rifles barracks in Aldershot
The Duchess visits the 4 Rifles barracks in Aldershot

The Duchess then went on to visit Southampton Children's Hospital to open the cancer unit, Piam Brown, which has undergone a refurbishment.

At the hospital, Her Royal Highness met patients, fundraisers, nurses and families before touring the unit and taking in the consulting rooms, clinic, day ward and teenage games room.

During her visit, The Duchess met Alicia Cole, 11, who won a drawing competition run by Southampton Children's Hospital Charity and who presented her with a framed copy of her artwork.

Her Royal Highness also attended a reception for supporters where she unveiled a plaque to officially open the new ward.

The Duchess said: "I just wanted to congratulate everybody who's been involved with this wonderful refurbishment of the Piam Brown Ward, I can just see what a wonderful job it is doing for children with this illness.

"I've had a friend before who had a child on this ward so I just know how wonderfully well they are looked after and I think this new ward will make all the difference, and so I am very proud and pleased to be here today."