In pictures: Duchess of Cambridge joins squaddies for drills as she marks Armed Forces Day

·4 min read
The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to Pirbright Training Academy in Woking - Corporal Cameron Eden / British Army
The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to Pirbright Training Academy in Woking - Corporal Cameron Eden / British Army

The Duchess of Cambridge thanked "the brave men and women" of the Armed Forces for their sacrifice when she joined squaddies in learning some of the skills they need on the front line.

New pictures released to mark Armed Forces Day show the Duchess visiting Pirbright Training in November, when she spent time with the 101 Operational Sustainment Brigade at Abingdon Airfield.

She got to grips with some of the tasks demanded of new recruits, including hitching up a trailer and sitting at the controls of an armoured vehicle.

The Duchess took part in training exercises and spent time talking to personnel about their experiences in the British Army.

The Duchess participating in some training exercises at Pirbright Training Academy - Corporal Cameron Eden / British Army
The Duchess participating in some training exercises at Pirbright Training Academy - Corporal Cameron Eden / British Army
Duchess Of Cambridge visits the troops - Corporal Cameron Eden / British Army
Duchess Of Cambridge visits the troops - Corporal Cameron Eden / British Army

In a statement posted on the official Twitter account of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, she praised the members of the military, saying: "Today on Armed Forces Day, William and I would like to pay tribute to the brave men and women, past & present, serving in all of our armed forces, at sea, on land & in the air, here in the UK and around the world.

"Thank you for all you and your families sacrifice to keep us safe."

The Duchess added: "Last year, I was honoured to spend time with the British Army to see how they train serving personnel and new recruits.

"It was wonderful to see first-hand the many important and varied roles the military play day in, day out to protect us all."

Similar high-profile engagements for the Duchess may be designed to pave the way for her to be given the patronage of a military regiment, in line with other members of the Royal family.

Duchess of Cambridge - Corporal Alexander Morris / British Army
Duchess of Cambridge - Corporal Alexander Morris / British Army

She has been spoken of as a potential replacement for Prince Andrew after he was forced to give up his role as a colonel of the Grenadier Guards when he stepped away from public life in November 2019. There is said to be widespread support for the idea among the regiment’s ranks.

A source with the Grenadier Guards said recently: "We all admire the way she has fitted in and behaved, she never seems to put a foot wrong. Everything she has taken on she really commits to, and we want someone who will really engage with us."

If confirmed, the Duchess, 40, would be the first female colonel of the regiment in 80 years since the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, held the role in 1942.

She already attends military functions alongside her husband Prince William, who is Colonel of the Irish Guards, accompanying him to various medal parades and events in honour of the regiment.

The Duchess has also taken the salute at the Household Division’s Beating Retreat on Horse Guards Parade in London. Many members of the Royal family have military experience, but it is not a requirement of being appointed colonel of a regiment.

ATC Pirbright delivers the 14-week training course known as the Common Military Syllabus, which is completed by all adult recruits aged 17 and over when they join the Army.

The demanding course - elements of which were explained to the Duchess during her visit - includes fieldcraft, handling arms, fitness training, military knowledge and battlefield casualty drills.

Duke of Kent - Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Duke of Kent - Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Writing about the rigours of the course on an Army noticeboard, one former recruit said: "Basic will be hard, and there might be times where you want to give up. Be prepared for aches, pains and sleep deprivation."

Another wrote: "It is hard, but it is supposed to ensure you have the basic skills to start a harder level of training after that. There is some bull, but they have to put you under pressure to see how you behave."

Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, visited Scarborough as part of the Armed Forces Day national event on Saturday.

Armed Forces Day - Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Armed Forces Day - Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Armed Forces Day - Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Armed Forces Day - Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

The event, which drew tens of thousands, was meant to be held in the summers of 2020 and 2021 but was twice postponed due to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

Spectators were treated to an RAF aerobatic display above the South Bay, military parades, music performances and Royal Navy ships moored off the coast.

Highlights of the event included displays from the Red Arrows, RAF Falcons Parachute Team, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and an RAF Typhoon.