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The Duchess of Cornwall visits the Desert Rats exhibition

24th June 2014

The Duchess of Cornwall views art which depicts the thoughts and messages of soldiers who served in Afghanistan with the Desert Rats

The Duchess of Cornwall views art which depicts the thoughts and messages of soldiers who served in Afghanistan with the Desert Rats.

The Duchess of Cornwall visited 'Voices from the Desert', a Desert Rats exhibition by the War Artist Anna Redwood at La Galleria on Pall Mall in London.

Voices from the Desert is an exhibition of art & sculpture which marks the return of British troops from Afghanistan. Having spent time there with British troops on active service, Anna Redwood has produced this one-woman retrospective depicting the thoughts and messages of the serving soldiers she lived and worked amongst.

The British 7th Armoured Division is one of the most famous brigades in the British Army. It was formed in the desert of North Africa just before the Second World War and fought in most of the major campaigns of the war, ending up in the heart of the Third Reich itself - Berlin. The Desert Rats have fought in the majority of large conflicts since, including in the first and second Gulf wars and in Afghanistan.

The Duchess has a deep personal connection with the 7th Armoured Brigade (Desert Rats) as her father Major Bruce Shand served with the Desert Rats in the Second World War before he was captured during the Battle of El Alamein. Her Royal Highness is Patron of the Desert Rats Association and an Honorary Member.

Artist Anna Redwood showed Her Royal Highness around the exhibition where she met members of the 7th Armoured Brigade (Desert Rats), from both recent conflicts in Afghanistan to World War Two veterans. Len Burritt, who served in the 7th Armoured Brigade during the Second World War, showed The Duchess a victory flag which was flown in Berlin in 1946, as well as the original Desert Rat badge which was given to him in 1940.

Her Royal Highness also had the opportunity to view an 11ft high, heavy-metal RAT sculpture - designed and constructed by Anna from scrapped vehicles found in the desert. The British Army has transported this regimental mascot all the way back from Camp Bastion and it will be on display at the La Galleria Pall Mall for this exhibition before it is moved to a permanent home with the 7th Armoured Brigade - The Desert Rats.