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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 February 2008, 14:09 GMT
Prince meets battle-bound troops
Prince Charles
The Prince is Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute regiment
The Prince of Wales has met paratroopers who are preparing for a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute regiment, Prince Charles, met about 500 soldiers and their families, near their base in Colchester, Essex.

The regiment's 2nd battalion is due to be deployed in the next few months.

The visit came the day after coroners criticised the MoD on hearing soldiers' deaths may have been prevented if they had been better equipped.

Oxford assistant coroner Andrew Walker accused the MoD of "a breach of trust" following a 25-day delay in getting equipment to the front line in Afghanistan.

Demonstrations given

Soldiers had complained of a lack of equipment - chiefly night vision kits and weaponry, ahead of the death of 29-year-old Capt Philippson in a fire fight with Taliban troops in June 2006.

Meanwhile, Wiltshire coroner David Masters called for a review of armed forces funding after the deaths of two soldiers in Iraq.

Prince Charles met Lt Col Joseph O'Sullivan before being introduced to the soldiers.

Private Russell Tierney, 24, from Birmingham, introduced the prince to his five-week-old daughter, Kyra and his girlfriend, Limara, 23, who he is due to marry before he is deployed to Afghanistan in March.

"It was Kyra he noticed as he walked by," said Pte Tierney.

"He stopped to say hello. He said she was lovely."

Pte Andy Wilson demonstrated how night-vision sights could be fitted to helmets to the prince, who then discussed weaponry with the soldiers and was shown a light machine-gun and SA80 assault rifle.

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