Page last updated at 21:47 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 22:47 UK

Troops under pressure - Charles

Trooping of the Colour and UK soldiers in Iraq
Soldiers have a dual role, says Charles

Prince Charles has said the armed forces face "testing times" because of the tempo of operations abroad.

Speaking ahead of Trooping the Colour, he said soldiers parading at the Queen's official birthday were also required for dangerous tours.

"What I can never get over is how they manage to turn from public duties one minute to operational circumstances the next," he told the BBC.

He also spoke of his worries for Prince Harry during his time in Afghanistan.

Harry returned from serving in Afghanistan earlier this year, recalled 10 weeks into his four-month deployment after a media blackout broke down.

Prince Charles talks to the BBC

Charles said Harry's time away was an anxious period for him as a father and it gave him an insight into the experience of other families with loved ones in the armed forces.

"I always tried to understand what they were going through but until you actually find yourself in the position of being a parent with your son serving on operations, you don't fully realise the extent of the worry and of course it's always worst for those left behind."

But he never discouraged his son from going, he said, and it was a "tragedy" that Harry could not complete his time out there.


Charles said he was full of admiration for the way the troops met all the demands on them.

"I don't think enough people realise that although they march about dressed in smart tunics and bearskins, they are at the same time highly trained, highly operational soldiers."

Prince Charles gives medals to soldiers
Charles believes the contribution made by soldiers deserves recognition

There's a danger we don't appreciate how difficult their jobs are, says Charles, which is why he throws parties for returning soldiers from his regiments, to present them with medals and thank them for their service.

Trooping the Colour illustrated the versatility of British soldiers and was a stirring and moving occasion, he said.

"It's splendidly British and I hope it will go on for as long as possible because I think the world would be a sadder, drearier and greyer place without it."

The full interview with Prince Charles is broadcast in Trooping the Colour on BBC One at 1020 BST on Saturday.

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