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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 17:17 GMT
Camilla in emotional WWII tribute
Prince Charles and Camilla
The duchess was emotional at the graveside wreath-laying
The Duchess of Cornwall has paid an emotional tribute at the graves of two of her father's World War II comrades who were killed at El Alamein, Egypt.

Accompanied by the Prince of Wales, she laid flowers at the graves in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

"I've got a huge lump in my throat," Camilla said afterwards.

Her father, Major Bruce Shand, was wounded and captured in the aftermath of the 1942 battle that claimed 23,500 UK and Commonwealth soldiers' lives.

There are 7,367 tombstones and a memorial bearing the names of 11,874 soldiers and airmen who have no known grave at the El Alamein cemetery.

The prince laid a wreath of red poppies decorated with his white Prince of Wales feathers emblem at the site's Stone of Remembrance.


The duchess said after the visit: "I found it very, very moving. I'm so pleased that I've done it for my father."

Major Bruce Shand, now 89 and a Military Cross holder, was leading his squad in the area in the aftermath of the battle when his vehicle was hit twice by enemy fire.

His wireless operator Sgt Charles Francis and driver Cpl Edward Plant were killed, while Major Shand was wounded and captured. He spent the rest of the war in the Spangenburg prisoner of war camp in Germany.

Camilla laid bunches of cream roses on the two men's graves, and left a handwritten note from her father.

It read: "The gallantry and sacrifice of two fellow 12th Lancers on 6th November 1942 will never be forgotten by me."

As the Royal couple walked away, Charles handed his wife a handkerchief which she used to blow her nose.

The battle around the desert village of El Alamein from 23 October to 4 November saw the German army, under General Rommel, defeated at the hands of the 8th Army under General Bernard Montgomery, and marked a turning point in the war.

The Royal couple, on a Middle East tour, will later fly to Saudi Arabia, where they will spend two days under tight security in the kingdom where Westerners have frequently been targeted in militant attacks.

The Duchess of Cornwall describes her emotions

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21 Mar 06 |  In Pictures

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