The Prince of Wales has paid tribute in his Christmas message to the armed forces and the “personal sacrifice” of Britain’s servicemen and women.
Speaking to Forces TV and BFBS Radio, Prince Charles commended the “professionalism” and “cultural sensitivity” that members of the armed forces show.
He spoke of his admiration for those who endure “great danger” to protect their country, and the families who support them.
In the message, Charles said that service personnel will face many challenges over the festive period, some of which will “put our service people in great danger as they carry out their challenging duties”.
Almost 23,000 military personnel have been stationed or deployed abroad over Christmas.
Around 14,000 are based in Europe, with just over 3,000 in Cyprus. An additional 1,170 personnel are currently in across North Africa and the Middle East and about 1,000 in the Falklands.
Almost 900 members of the armed forces are involved in the assault against Daesh in Syria and Iraq.
In his message, the 67 year old prince said: “I am delighted to have this opportunity to send you all a Christmas message, for while many of the current news headlines around the world appear rather grim, they have reminded us all of the vital importance of the armed forces.
“Sometimes it would appear that there is no real threat facing Britain and that therefore defence can perhaps seem somewhat irrelevant.
“However, the extent of current global deployments of the UK’s armed forces only goes to highlight the continued, essential role of the armed forces in today’s society.”
Behind the heir to the throne are pictures of his two sons, Prince William and Harry who are in their military uniforms.
Charles ended his message by saying: “I can only wish you all the happiest possible Christmas and send you a sincere and heartfelt thank you for your continued service and personal sacrifice.
“I can assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that this is hugely valued and appreciated.”