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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
A family affair at Sandhurst
Harry and Tiggy Pettifer
Prince Harry has been commissioned as an officer in the Army watched by his proud grandmother, the Queen, and other members of the Royal Family.

BBC News's Tom Geoghegan went along to watch his passing out ceremony at Sandhurst.

Many of the 220 cadets who graduated together at Sandhurst had family members watching.

But it was Prince Harry's relatives who secured the best seats around the famous quadrangle.

For the last 44 weeks, the Royal Military Academy in Surrey has treated the third-in-line to the throne in the same way as the other cadets.

But it was powerless to stop the prince - who went by the name Harry Wales at Sandhurst - from stealing the show in his final parade before joining the Household Cavalry's Blues and Royals.

SOVEREIGN'S PARADE
220 cadets passed out
This included 23 women and 16 overseas cadets from 11 countries
447 cadets were on parade

Although the Windsors took the limelight, they were heavily outnumbered by the mums, dads, grandparents, brothers and sisters who filled the stands - their smart suits and hats giving the occasion a flavour of neighbouring Ascot.

If any event is guaranteed to be punctual, it's one organised by the British Army.

So at exactly 11.15am the parade began and Prince Harry, 21, was soon spotted marching with Alamein Company and conveniently situated in the front row.

Red-faced

Never was an officer cadet under such intense scrutiny, from 100 reporters and photographers and a television audience.

And he didn't put a foot or a sword wrong, although he appeared rather red-faced with all the attention.

Equipped with a thin silver sword, he was dressed in the ceremonial navy blue uniform with trademark red stripes up the trousers, white gloves and peaked cap.

Big brother William was already present, sitting with the other junior cadets in the stands, for once yielding seniority to his younger sibling. And Harry's former nanny Tiggy Pettifer was also in the stands.

Prince Harry
Harry's swordmanship was faultless

Then the rest of the family arrived. First, a relaxed Prince Charles accompanied by Camilla, who was dressed in navy and clutched her hat in the chilly breeze.

They sat next to the head of the British Armed Forces, Sir Mike Jackson, in the VIP seats.

A fanfare greeted the arrival of the prince's grandparents - it was the first time the Queen has attended the Sovereign's Parade in 15 years.

She and Prince Philip sat in gold-coloured seats in the royal dais, facing the imposing Old College building, about 50 feet from their grandson.

Touching

As reviewing officer, the Queen led the inspection, and the question everyone was asking was: "Will she stop to talk to Harry?"

To the delight of the photographers, there was a touching exchange in which she spoke a few words and he failed to suppress a huge grin and a deeper blush.

After two march-pasts, the presentations and a speech by the Queen, it was all over bar the evening ball.

With the Army's involvement in Iraq, you do worry about what's going to happen to him
Amanda Attree, mother of Adam

Tradition dictates that the "pips" on Harry's shoulder - one star signalling his rank - remain covered up until midnight, when he officially becomes a Second Lieutenant and begins earning his 21,940 salary.

Harry will serve in an armoured reconnaissance unit and train to become a troop commander.

He will be in charge of 11 soldiers and four Scimitar reconnaissance vehicles and will soon begin training at Bovington Camp in Dorset.

As his fellow cadets left the quadrangle for the last time, a few whooped with joy at the realisation that the tough first phase of their year-long training course was over.

Kerry and Delia Bull
Kerry Bull's mother Delia said she was immensely proud

The first gruelling five weeks had begun with 5am starts and 19-hour days.

Personal photos, mobile phones and radios were banned for the initial period and cadets had to iron their uniforms to perfection throughout the course.

Such discipline will help them all as they continue their military careers, which for some like Kerry Bull, 25, starts in the deep end.

He is off to Afghanistan on attachment with the Parachute Regiment before he joins the Air Corps in July.

Moments after the parade, in which as junior under-officer he was responsible for shouting the orders to Normandy Company, he said: "That was really good. There wasn't too many nerves because we had done it so many times.

"The extra scrutiny didn't bother me too much because it's been happening all year.

Charles and Camilla
Charles was in full cermonial dress

"For all of us, this would have been a special day, but with all the royals, it was extra-special."

Kerry lost his father, a pilot, when he was young, and for his mother Delia, it was an immensely proud day.

Despite the sense of achievement and the happiness of the occasion, sobering thoughts linger about the dangers which lie ahead.

Recalling the moment when her son told her he was joining up, Amanda Attree, who watched Adam, 26, graduate, said: "I was a bit concerned. With the Army's involvement in Iraq, you do worry about what's going to happen to him so that's your first thought.

"But he wanted to do it for such a long time, we were glad he got in and his determination got him through it."


SEE ALSO:
Profile: Prince Harry
15 Sep 05 |  UK


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