Page last updated at 17:54 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 18:54 UK

Sombre memorial for Harry comrades

By Huw Williams
BBC News, Edinburgh


Memorial parade
Prince Harry was among 200 troops parading down Edinburgh's Royal Mile

Prince Harry has joined 200 servicemen gathered in Edinburgh to remember comrades killed during 52 Infantry Brigade's six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

They were met by crowds of supporters, who lined the streets of Scotland's capital.

The group of schoolgirls chattered as they walked down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. As they came to the barriers, the broadcast trucks and the waiting crowds, they stopped and stared.

"What's all that about?", one wondered. Then they remembered. "Harry's here," her friend declared.

It was inevitable that the presence of Lieutenant Wales was going to get a lot of attention.

He saw frontline action in Helmand province until security fears meant he had to be brought home. And now he paraded with comrades in Edinburgh.

But the news that four more British soldiers have died in Afghanistan gave a new focus to many of the crowds waiting outside St Giles' Cathedral.

One proud mum, who'd had two sons serve in the Army in Northern Ireland and Iraq, told me that she gets upset every time troops are killed or injured.

"I think of them all as my sons," she said.

'Reminder of sacrifice'

As the pipes and drums led 200 soldiers down the High Street to the cathedral, many of the people waiting in the bright Edinburgh sunshine applauded.

One woman told me she'd shouted out "Well done" as the parade went past. She wished more of those alongside her had done the same.

A man working in an office overlooking the cathedral came down at the last minute to stand and watch. He said it was quite right that there was a very visible reminder of what British troops are doing overseas.

It's about the past, and it's about the future
Brigadier Andrew Mackay

"Too often we don't actually see what's going on, so it's important that the public are reminded of the sacrifices being made by our guys over there," he said.

Of course, the latest British deaths were included in the service. There was a special prayer for those "who received bad news today".

And the troops who died during 52 infantry battalion's tour of duty were all remembered too. As their names were read out, some in the cathedral congregation cried.

Prayers were said, thanking God for the "resolution, perseverance and undaunted spirit" of soldiers who serve their nation and for those who have given "their last full measure in selfless service".

The Last Post sounded, and a piper played "The Flowers of the Forest".

But as well as remembering those who haven't come home, the service was also to commemorate those who did.

52 Brigade's commander, Brigadier Andrew Mackay, told me it had been important to get that balance right. He paid tribute to the bereaved families who'd come to Edinburgh to take part in the service. But he also hoped that it would help everyone taking part to move on.

"It's about the past and it's about the future", he said.




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