Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Saturday, 27 February 2010

Soldiers' early St David's Day ceremony in Cardiff

The 2n Battalion The Royal Welsh march through The Hayes, Cardiff
The 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh march through The Hayes, Cardiff

More than 80 soldiers, including some just returned from Afghanistan, have paraded through Cardiff in an early celebration of St David's Day.

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh also conducted a full ceremonial guard outside Cardiff Castle, two days ahead of Wales' patron saint day, 1 March.

The ceremony typically only takes place outside Buckingham Palace.

Meanwhile, St David's in Pembrokeshire saw life-size dragons line the streets in another early celebration.

The regiment said it would strengthen its links with the Welsh capital and was a chance for the public to show support for The Royal Welsh.

The soldiers were guarding Cardiff Castle in full ceremonial uniform from 0800 GMT, and later paraded through the city centre from Millennium Plaza - near the Millennium Stadium - back to the castle.

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh approach Cardiff Castle
The troops approach Cardiff Castle after parading through the city

Commanding officer Lt Col Mark Wheeler said beforehand: "This is a very important day for us, and a great opportunity for the general public to come out and show their support for The Royal Welsh.

"We are pleased to be able to commemorate our national day and anniversary by performing the full ceremonial guard for the public at Cardiff Castle."

Pte Lewis Mudge, 20, one of those taking part, said: "I am really honoured to be representing my regiment and the Army in Wales' capital, which is also my home town."

About 450 soldiers serving with the 2nd Battalion paraded through Cardiff in 2007 to mark their return from a six-month tour of duty in Iraq.

In St David's, meanwhile, - Wales' smallest city - the life-size dragon parade was organised by Oriel y Parc gallery.

The dragons were joined by more traditional pilgrims and people in Welsh costumes.

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