Injured Camilla rides a mobility scooter to make sure she can honour our heroes returning from Afghanistan

By Rebecca English
Last updated at 1:27 AM on 6th May 2010


She told the wounded servicemen they made her 'proud to be British'.

And yesterday, the Duchess of Cornwall displayed some traditional British resolve of her own.

Determined not to let the inconvenience of a broken leg stand in the way of a meeting with the troops, Camilla hired an eye-catching red mobility scooter for the occasion.

In fact Camilla, who is still on the mend after suffering a nasty fracture to her leg while hill-walking in Scotland last month, took every mode of transport available to her.

The Duchess of Cornwall on her mobility scooter today as she meets troops at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire

The Duchess of Cornwall on her mobility scooter today as she meets troops at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire

The Duchess, who fractured her leg while hill walking in Scotland last month, presented campaign medals to soldiers from A Company 4th Battalion The Rifles on their return from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.

She arrived at Bulford Camp, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, by official car before hopping into a wheelchair pushed by a royal aide, who negotiated her up a tricky ramp and on to a stand in order to address the packed parade ground.

She then used a pair of crutches to help get to her feet for the playing of the national anthem before transferring to her jazzy red 'Shoprider' scooter to traverse the rows of brave soldiers from A Company 4th Battalion The Rifles.

According to an aide, Camilla, 61, is recuperating well from her accident but decided to privately hire the scooter in order to help her get around more easily and has been practising on it at Raymill, her private residence in Wiltshire.

'She felt the scooter would enable her to get around and meet more soldiers and also help her to talk to them as it positions her a lot higher than her wheelchair does,' they said.

Camilla motors herself around the parade ground as she presents campaign medals to The Rifles

Camilla motors herself around the parade ground as she presents campaign medals to The Rifles

The duchess hands an Afghanistan campaign medal over to a Rifleman from her scooter as the battalion stands to attention

The Duchess hands an Afghanistan campaign medal over to a Rifleman from her scooter as the battalion stands to attention

The Duchess is Royal Colonel of 4 Rifles and takes her duties extremely seriously. The regiment has been in Afghanistan since May last year and only returned to Britain last weekend with the loss of six soldiers - the average age of which was just 20 - and having suffered 25 per cent casualties.

As she manoeuvred her way around the troops, Camilla was moved to tears by some of the stories that she heard, particularly those of three of the most seriously wounded soldiers from the regiment.

Among them was Rifleman Daniel Owens, 22, who was shot through the back during an ambush, losing part of his liver and suffering two shattered vertebrae.

According to a family friend, Daniel has spent the last three months lying flat on his back, unable to move, but was determined to be able to stand in front of the Duchess.

He defied the advice of his doctors to be driven from Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham to Wiltshire for the event and proudly took his place in the line-up wearing a body brace.

As the Duchess approached him he was helped to his feet from his wheelchair, shaking with pain, and stood for more than 30 seconds as they exchanged words.

Camilla, who chose to use her crutches to meet the injured servicemen as a sign of respect, was visibly moved by his bravery and told him: 'You make me proud to be British. You are so unbelievably brave.'

The duchess gets up on crutches from her scooter so that she can speak to some of the most seriously injured soldiers

As a sign of respect Camilla stepped off her scooter and chose to use her crutches to meet injured servicemen

The Duchess of Cornwall on crutches presents a medal to Rifleman Daniel Owens

The Duchess presents a medal to Rifleman Daniel Owens. Visibly moved by his bravery she told him: 'You make me proud to be British. You are so unbelievably brave'

Afterwards, Rifleman Owens was in too shaken to talk but a friend said: 'It was his personal goal to be able to stand for the Duchess. He is in agony, to be honest, but was determined to do  it. He is hopeful for the future and this was an important step on his road to recovery.

'He has literally been lying flat on his back for the last three months, unable to move. None of us could believe our eyes when we saw what he did. His strength of character and determination is typical of all of the soldiers here today.'

Alongside Rifleman Owens were Corporal Ricky Ferguson and Rifleman Martin Pollock, both of whom suffered horrific injuries and multiple amputations.

In her address to the troops and their families, Camilla spoke of her 'pride and admiration' at the regiment's 'bravery, loyalty and dedication to duty' and paid tribute to those who had 'paid the ultimate price.'

'It is with a great deal of pride, admiration and a real sense of relief that I address you today,' she said.

'We owe all of you, and your families, a debt of gratitude.'

The Duchess of Cornwall meets injured Rifleman Daniel Owens at Bulford Camp

Camilla chats to badly-wounded Corporal Ricky Ferguson and shakes his hand. In her address to the troops and their families, she said: 'We owe all of you, and your families, a debt of gratitude.'

Camilla stands, supported by crutches, to show her respect for her battalion as they march past

Camilla stands, supported by crutches, to show her respect for the battalion as they march past

A Company were based in Sangin, northern Helmand, and took part in the army's recent push against the Taliban, known as Operation Herrick.

Conditions were said to be austere and the troops faced heavy fighting amid the bitter cold of the Afghan winter.

A spokesman said: 'It has not been an easy tour and the Company suffered six casualties.  Despite feeling the loss of their fellow Riflemen keenly, throughout their time in Afghanistan A Company remained steadfast in their resolve to defeat the insurgents and win the support of the population.

'The families of the Riflemen have also continued to show an outstanding level of support to their loved ones while elements of the Battalion are still deployed.  They have borne the separation with great fortitude and the Battalion is forever in their debt.'

 

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Bravo Camilla!

Click to rate     Rating   2

She will make a wonderful Queen, better than Charles' first wife

Click to rate     Rating   7

How cruel are some of the comments about the Duchess who is also the Princess of Wales but chooses not to use the title out of respect for the former Princess of Wales and her children. The Duchess of Cornwall has "class" with a capital C. Why can't the British people get over the fact that Diana was a needy, self-centred young girl not able to cope with the demands of her job? Camilla is a mature and sensible woman who loves our future King and makes him happy. What should the man do, join a monestary?

Click to rate     Rating   3

I find it hard to understand why we have a couple of dozen members ,or hagers on within the Royal Family.They get very well payed by the public purse ie me and you yet they do almost nothing to earn their keep. It is good to see our future Kings wife doing her bit howevershe could have been escourted by a member of the actual blood line royal.ie princess Ann,her brothers especially the yougest who lives in a 32 bedroom house with a Army of staff all financed by the tax payer.I really hope that the next goverment explaines to the queen and ask's he to get her cheque book out and start to pay her way and get her extended family to pull their weight.Well done to the Dutches of Cornwall for making a effort.

Click to rate     Rating   12

I am sure that many injured soldiers could use a mobility scooter as well, but can't receive them and must make-do with a wheel-chair. Their lives are just as important as this Duchess's.

Click to rate     Rating   4

Please please remember the route this person took, to get where she is today.. Please remember her true character as this is still the Camilla Campaign continuing....and they are making hay while the sunshines...Thank God for that broken leg and the opportunies it has provided to help improve her image!!

Click to rate     Rating   6

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