Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Liam Riley's family thank Prince Harry for tribute

Liam Riley's mother Cheryl Routledge, brother Jonathan Riley and father Michael Riley with a photo of Liam and Prince Harry
Liam Riley told his family he shared birthday cake with Prince Harry

The family of a Derbyshire soldier killed in Afghanistan have thanked Prince Harry for his tribute to him.

Cpl Liam Riley, from Killamarsh, died in an explosion in Helmand on Monday.

Prince Harry, who trained with Cpl Riley in Canada, described the 21-year-old as "a legend" after hearing about his death.

Cpl Riley's mother Cheryl Routledge said: "He just backs up what we've always thought for 21 years - we've had a legend on our hands."

Mrs Routledge said her son was proud of meeting the prince and had told her how he had shared his birthday cake - but never bragged about it.

"Liam never bigged anything up about himself in the Army but he was just, 'oh yes, I've met Harry'," she said.

"But he did tell us... he's just a regular guy, he said he was really nice. But that was it."

Liam Riley
Liam's family said he was desperate to go to Afghanistan

The soldier's family said he had been desperate to be posted to Afghanistan.

His mother said: "I dreaded him going, as every mother would. It is a terrible situation but he knew his duty."

She said Cpl Riley had always wanted to join the Army.

"You asked him eight, nine, 10 years old, 'what are you going to do?' - he said, 'I'm going to be a soldier'.

"That's all he ever, ever wanted to do."

'So sudden'

His father Mike Riley said: "We're so proud. You read things in the paper and everyone can read about him.

"But everyone I know through football and through his life just loved him to bits."

Asked about reports that his son died helping his comrades, Mr Riley said: "That is Liam. He would do anything for anybody.

"He would never think of any consequences that would happen to him."

He added: "What shocked us most was he had only been gone four weeks, he had his leaving party four or five weeks back. It's just so sudden.

"We hadn't really even come to terms with him being in Afghanistan."

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said: "Cpl Liam Riley stood out to his commanding officers as a highly capable soldier who made a valuable contribution to the Army.

"His courage to the last is an example to all of us and he will be deeply missed by his family, friends and fellow soldiers."

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