Injured Camilla rides a mobility scooter to make sure she can honour our heroes returning from Afghanistan
Last updated at 1:27 AM on 6th May 2010
She told the wounded servicemen they made her 'proud to be British'.
And yesterday, the Duchess of Cornwall displayed some traditional British resolve of her own.
Determined not to let the inconvenience of a broken leg stand in the way of a meeting with the troops, Camilla hired an eye-catching red mobility scooter for the occasion.
In fact Camilla, who is still on the mend after suffering a nasty fracture to her leg while hill-walking in Scotland last month, took every mode of transport available to her.
The Duchess of Cornwall on her mobility scooter today as she meets troops at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire
The Duchess, who fractured her leg while hill walking in Scotland last month, presented campaign medals to soldiers from A Company 4th Battalion The Rifles on their return from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.
She arrived at Bulford Camp, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, by official car before hopping into a wheelchair pushed by a royal aide, who negotiated her up a tricky ramp and on to a stand in order to address the packed parade ground.
She then used a pair of crutches to help get to her feet for the playing of the national anthem before transferring to her jazzy red 'Shoprider' scooter to traverse the rows of brave soldiers from A Company 4th Battalion The Rifles.
According to an aide, Camilla, 61, is recuperating well from her accident but decided to privately hire the scooter in order to help her get around more easily and has been practising on it at Raymill, her private residence in Wiltshire.
'She felt the scooter would enable her to get around and meet more soldiers and also help her to talk to them as it positions her a lot higher than her wheelchair does,' they said.
Camilla motors herself around the parade ground as she presents campaign medals to The Rifles
The Duchess hands an Afghanistan campaign medal over to a Rifleman from her scooter as the battalion stands to attention
The Duchess is Royal Colonel of 4 Rifles and takes her duties extremely seriously. The regiment has been in Afghanistan since May last year and only returned to Britain last weekend with the loss of six soldiers - the average age of which was just 20 - and having suffered 25 per cent casualties.
As she manoeuvred her way around the troops, Camilla was moved to tears by some of the stories that she heard, particularly those of three of the most seriously wounded soldiers from the regiment.
Among them was Rifleman Daniel Owens, 22, who was shot through the back during an ambush, losing part of his liver and suffering two shattered vertebrae.
According to a family friend, Daniel has spent the last three months lying flat on his back, unable to move, but was determined to be able to stand in front of the Duchess.
He defied the advice of his doctors to be driven from Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham to Wiltshire for the event and proudly took his place in the line-up wearing a body brace.
As the Duchess approached him he was helped to his feet from his wheelchair, shaking with pain, and stood for more than 30 seconds as they exchanged words.
Camilla, who chose to use her crutches to meet the injured servicemen as a sign of respect, was visibly moved by his bravery and told him: 'You make me proud to be British. You are so unbelievably brave.'
As a sign of respect Camilla stepped off her scooter and chose to use her crutches to meet injured servicemen
The Duchess presents a medal to Rifleman Daniel Owens. Visibly moved by his bravery she told him: 'You make me proud to be British. You are so unbelievably brave'
Afterwards, Rifleman Owens was in too shaken to talk but a friend said: 'It was his personal goal to be able to stand for the Duchess. He is in agony, to be honest, but was determined to do it. He is hopeful for the future and this was an important step on his road to recovery.
'He has literally been lying flat on his back for the last three months, unable to move. None of us could believe our eyes when we saw what he did. His strength of character and determination is typical of all of the soldiers here today.'
Alongside Rifleman Owens were Corporal Ricky Ferguson and Rifleman Martin Pollock, both of whom suffered horrific injuries and multiple amputations.
In her address to the troops and their families, Camilla spoke of her 'pride and admiration' at the regiment's 'bravery, loyalty and dedication to duty' and paid tribute to those who had 'paid the ultimate price.'
'It is with a great deal of pride, admiration and a real sense of relief that I address you today,' she said.
'We owe all of you, and your families, a debt of gratitude.'
Camilla chats to badly-wounded Corporal Ricky Ferguson and shakes his hand. In her address to the troops and their families, she said: 'We owe all of you, and your families, a debt of gratitude.'
Camilla stands, supported by crutches, to show her respect for the battalion as they march past
A Company were based in Sangin, northern Helmand, and took part in the army's recent push against the Taliban, known as Operation Herrick.
Conditions were said to be austere and the troops faced heavy fighting amid the bitter cold of the Afghan winter.
A spokesman said: 'It has not been an easy tour and the Company suffered six casualties. Despite feeling the loss of their fellow Riflemen keenly, throughout their time in Afghanistan A Company remained steadfast in their resolve to defeat the insurgents and win the support of the population.
'The families of the Riflemen have also continued to show an outstanding level of support to their loved ones while elements of the Battalion are still deployed. They have borne the separation with great fortitude and the Battalion is forever in their debt.'
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