UK

William takes up role as regiment’s chief by participating in mock assault

The Prince of Wales, right, rides in an armoured vehicle while on a training exercise on Salisbury Plain (Andrew Matthews/PA)
The Prince of Wales, right, rides in an armoured vehicle while on a training exercise on Salisbury Plain (Andrew Matthews/PA) The Prince of Wales, right, rides in an armoured vehicle while on a training exercise on Salisbury Plain (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Prince of Wales threw smoke grenades from a Warrior armoured vehicle as he joined a simulated attack on an enemy position.

William took the gunner position on the infantry fighting vehicle as he took part in the mock assault on Salisbury Plain.

He was part of a multi-vehicle attack on an enemy stronghold within a wooded area, which culminated in troops assaulting the location.

The exercise formed part of William’s first visit to the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment as their Colonel-in-Chief.

The Prince of Wales rides in an armoured vehicle while on a training exercise during a visit to the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment on Salisbury Plain (Andrew Matthews/PA)
The Prince of Wales rides in an armoured vehicle while on a training exercise during a visit to the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment on Salisbury Plain (Andrew Matthews/PA) The Prince of Wales rides in an armoured vehicle while on a training exercise on Salisbury Plain (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Speaking after the visit had finished, one of the soldiers who took part in the exercise explained what the prince would have been engaged in.

Sergeant Mark Kirton, 31, who was the section commander for the troops taking part in the ground assault on the enemy position, said William was “very excited” by the exercise.

“His Royal Highness was in the gunner seat of the vehicle I was travelling in and he also came to sit on orders with myself,” he said.

“I gave the lads orders for what was going to happen at each point of the operation.

“He was operating weapons systems on the Warrior, and he was also throwing smoke to create a screen for the troops moving through the wood.

“In his new role as colonel-in-chief of the regiment, he will realise what we do as a unit as we are infantry but also using the vehicles.

“The prince was listening to the orders I was giving as I briefed the lads.

“From what I saw, I think he felt very excited when he saw all the smoke and the bangs going off, so hopefully he enjoyed it,” added Sgt Kirton, from Worcester.

William, who was appointed Colonel-in-Chief by his father in August, was briefed on the recent work of the regiment and also about a future deployment to Poland next year.

He also met groups of service personnel to hear about their different roles and experiences in the regiment.

Captain Matthew Camp, 27, from Worcester, said: “It was nerve racking at first when I saw him walking towards me, but he put me at ease with his manner.

“He was interested in hearing how the soldiers’ lives were affected by their deployment and how we manage the work-life balance.

“There’s a buzz around the battalion and it always nice. This is the first royal visit I have been part of and I think for everyone here they won’t forget today.

“I was lucky to be part of the attack his Royal Highness conducted and there’s nerves because you don’t know if everything will go to plan. It went well and he said he enjoyed the attack.

“He said it was his first time in a Warrior and they are always good fun – it’s like a 20-odd tonnes go-kart.”

The regiment was created in 2007 and traditionally recruits from Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire – the former ancient kingdom of Mercia.