UK

King pays tribute to troops to mark Armed Forces Day

The King departs Buckingham Palace for the Trooping the Colour ceremony (Victoria Jones/PA)
The King departs Buckingham Palace for the Trooping the Colour ceremony (Victoria Jones/PA) The King departs Buckingham Palace for the Trooping the Colour ceremony (Victoria Jones/PA)

The King has paid tribute to the “selfless service and sacrifice” of British troops in a letter to mark Armed Forces Day.

In a signed address, Charles thanked military personnel for their “immense and dedicated contribution”.

He wrote: “The Queen and I join many around the United Kingdom in celebrating Armed Forces Day, recognising the immense and dedicated contribution of our military both at home and overseas.

“Today provides a particularly valuable opportunity to acknowledge publicly the selfless service and sacrifice made each day by our Armed Forces personnel to keep this nation safe.”

Royal visit to Leicester
Royal visit to Leicester Charles meeting Army Cadets (Richard Stonehouse/PA)

Drawing on his own time in the military, Charles recognised the “deep pride” service personnel take in their duty, as demonstrated during the Coronation.

He wrote: “Having trained, and served, in both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, and having had such close affiliations over the course of the last 47 years as Colonel or Colonel-in-Chief of multiple regiments within the British Army, I know only too well of the deep pride our service personnel take in their duty, so superbly shown during our recent Coronation.

“As your Commander-in-Chief, I send my warmest good wishes to you all, your families, and the entire Armed Forces community on this special day.”

Sir Keir Starmer visit to Oxfordshire
Sir Keir Starmer visit to Oxfordshire Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to military personnel during a visit to an RAF base in Oxfordshire (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visited an RAF base to mark the occasion.

He and shadow defence secretary John Healey visited RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, where they met with military personnel including those involved in the ongoing UK operation to provide assistance to Ukraine.

Sir Keir said: “Those who serve in our Armed Forces represent the best of Britain – courage, duty and professionalism. As we mark Armed Forces Day, we thank our Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their families for all they sacrifice to keep Britain safe.

“My uncle served aboard HMS Antelope in the Falklands War, and pride in his service echoes through our family. It’s a privilege to mark Armed Forces Day by meeting with serving personnel.”

Their comments come as new research shows one million fewer Britons are donating to military charities compared to five years ago.

The study, carried out by YouGov on behalf of military charity Help for Heroes, found a 1.1 million drop in the number of people donating to military charities within the last half decade.

In 2017, an estimated 3.2 million Britons donated to such causes. That figure fell to 2.1 million in 2022.

The researchers quizzed more than 175,942 people in two separate polls – carried out over the course of 2017 and 2022 respectively.

The decline in support has been described as “a worrying trend” by Help for Heroes, which has seen its own income fall by 56% since British forces ended combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014.

The charity’s chief executive, James Needham, said: “Demand for our services is growing, yet the donations we rely on to provide life-changing support to veterans and their family members are falling.

“It is a worrying trend because the daily struggles of our Armed Forces community are no less challenging, nor have they gone away – they have just stopped making the headlines.

“This Armed Forces Day we celebrate the men and women who have served our country, past and present, but also remember that there are many veterans out there who still need our support and will do so long into the future.”

Armed Forces Day is an annual event taking place on the last Saturday of June that offers people a chance to show their support for the Armed Forces community – including serving troops, their families, veterans and cadets.