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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 16:59 GMT
Royals visiting wounded soldiers
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall
The royal couple inspected the centre's facilities on Thursday
The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to the "pure courage" of British forces injured in the line of fire.

Addressing personnel at a Surrey rehabilitation centre, the prince said it was "humbling" to be in the presence of those who had made such sacrifices.

Prince Charles was visiting the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre near Epsom, with the Duchess of Cornwall.

The unit can treat up to 160 patients, from all three forces and boasts a hydro-therapy pool.

Sense of humour

It was originally just for officers and airmen until 1996.

Speaking to staff and patients both past and present, Prince Charles said: "If I may say so, both of us salute your sense of duty, sheer courage, resilience and above all a wonderful sense of humour.

"That's the great thing that keeps the British going, you have a great spirit."

To laughter from the audience, he spoke of his own sons William and Harry's decisions to join the army despite aches and pains.

"People who join the armed forces find themselves in difficult, dangerous, hostile circumstances, I know many of you join for that," he said.

'Baldness is hereditary'

"I'm not quite sure what my two are joining for but I suspect it's the same sort of thing, except they have both got bad backs, bad knees.

"I keep telling them that it's hereditary but it doesn't do much good."

Sgt Michael Brennan
Prince Charles met Sgt Brennan when he visited the centre

To laughter from the audience, he added: "Much like baldness is hereditary."

Among those in the audience included Victoria Cross winner Private Johnson.

Charles and Camilla were given a detailed tour of the centre, visiting its hydrotherapy pool, physiotherapy facilities, gym and workshops where everything from false limbs to back moulds are made.

On a tour of the gym one patient, Sgt Mick Brennan invited the prince to try out his balance board - a space hopper-like device for amputees.

The 25-year-old was hurt in a suicide bomb attack near Baghdad last year and lost the bottom of both his legs.




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