Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 14:09 UK

Prince praises Forces during tour

Prince Charles at Pembroke House
The prince said his Navy colleagues thought it was safer to fly with him

The Prince of Wales praised former and serving members of the armed forces during a visit to a residential home for ex-naval staff and their spouses.

Prince Charles chatted and joked with former sailors and Royal Marines during his tour of the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust's Pembroke House in Gillingham.

The Prince, who has been patron of the trust since 1979, made a speech and unveiled a plaque to mark his visit.

He will visit the Metropolitan Police's firearms centre in Gravesend later.

Prince Charles said: "We know, of course, the demands on their service and dedication to the profession is immense.

We are incredibly lucky to have people of such high calibre serving in our Armed Forces
Prince Charles

"We hear about what they are enduring every day and week, how many casualties we are taking and in fact, tragically, how many people we are losing.

"Today does provide us with an opportunity to acknowledge that extraordinary devotion to duty which so many of our service men and women are displaying all the time.

"We are incredibly lucky to have people of such high calibre serving in our Armed Forces."

The Prince also said that during his five years of service his colleagues always wanted to fly with him.

"They thought my helicopter was far better maintained than everybody else's, so that proves that Royal Marines are no fools," he said.

Police training
The prince will visit a centre where police train in riot and crowd control

Prince Charles also shared a joke about the Eurovision song contest with James Parkes, 87, who had told him he enjoyed listening to Terry Wogan.

The former Navy regulating petty officer who served on the Russian convoys during the Second World War said: "It's wonderful for such a busy man to find the time to see us, it will take me a while to get over it I should think."

Mr Parkes said the Prince told him Wogan's commentary made the show.

Prince Charles will visit the £50m Metropolitan Police's specialist firearms and public order training centre in Gravesend, Kent, later.

The centre is designed to feature the sort of locations where police may have to use guns or handle public disturbances.

The prince will witness officers taking part in a "vehicle stop" exercise during his visit to the centre.

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Prince Charles chatted and joked with former sailors and Royal Marines during the tour



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