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Duke of Sussex rewards new Royal Marines

20 February 2019
The Duke of Sussex today handed two dozen new Royal Marine Commandos their green berets after they finished a gruelling 30-mile yomp across Dartmoor.

The Captain General Royal Marines called in on 42 Commando at Bickleigh, near Plymouth, then headed out on to the moor where generations of commandos have earned the coveted cap – the reward for 32 weeks of intensive training and dedication.

He met some of the experienced Royal Marines from the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone who’ve put recruits through nearly eight months of demanding instruction.

That training reaches its climax with the final ‘commando test’ on Dartmoor: a 30-mile march which starts at the northern tip of the moor and finishes near Plymouth.

Recruits have eight hours to finish – carrying around 40lbs of equipment.

To have someone as big as Prince Harry here at the end of the 30-miler, it feels special. It’s not everyday you get him handing you your green beret.

Marine James Reynolds

As they finished the ’30 miler’ the Duke salute the successful recruits, then present them with their coveted green berets, which symbolically marks the completion of their commando training.

Marine Rowan Birch was one of the exhausted recruits to complete the yomp successfully.

“Completing training has not really sunk in yet – it’s all a bit of a blur,” he said.

“You see and hear about Prince Harry going off on trips – and here he is, which is brilliant. I was a bit star-struck.”

Marine James Reynolds, another successful recruit, added: “To have someone as big as Prince Harry here at the end of the 30-miler, it feels special. It’s not everyday you get him handing you your green beret.”

At 42 Commando, the Duke learned about the unit’s specialists who provide force protection/board and search teams for ships around the globe, amphibious support and expertise, and – in a new role – a dedicated rescue squad to save downed aircrew from behind enemy lines.

The Duke watched a Joint Personnel Recovery demonstration as Royal Marines leapt off a Merlin helicopter and simulated the rescue of an F-35 Lightning pilot from new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. Afterwards, he chatted with some of 42 Commando’s personnel about their work.

“It was good to meet Prince Harry – normally you only see people like him on the telly!” said Marine David Meenagh from 42’s Mortar Troop.

“He was really laid back and his military experience definitely makes a difference – the first thing he said when he came up to us was: ‘Mortars, I like these guys!’
“Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the future.”

Major General Charlie Stickland, Commandant General Royal Marines, said today’s visit was the latest part of a comprehensive year-long programme to introduce the Duke of Sussex to the unique world of the Corps.

“42 Commando is his latest ‘port of call’, a chance to learn about this specialist unit – and for the guys to get a ‘sense and smell’ of their new Captain General, having taken over from his beloved grandfather,” he said.

“For the successful recruits, today is the culmination of many months of blood, sweat and tears. To receive their green berets at Bickleigh Vale from their Captain General is incredibly special. Some were speechless, some were smiling, some were incredibly tired.”

Since assuming the role of Captain General Royal Marines from his grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh in December 2017, the Duke of Sussex has visited new recruits at Lympstone and only last week visited commandos on exercise inside the Arctic Circle in Norway.

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