A veteran soldier and charity fundraiser from Luton has received a personal invitation to meet with The Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace next month.
Ted Read, 91, previously served in the 25th Dragoons under the command of Prince Philip’s uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Lord Mountbatten was the Burma Star Association’s first Patron, a capacity that The Duke of Edinburgh has held since his uncle’s death in 1979.
Ted, Chairman of the Luton Burma Star Association, was delighted when the envelope bearing the red royal crest arrived through the post:
“I was overwhelmed.
“The invitation is for an event on May 20 and I’ve been asked to make myself known to one of the equerries as The Duke would like to have a chat.”
Ted joined the 25th Dragoons in 1942, training with the cavalry regiment in India and later went on to serve in Burma. The regiment fought in the Battle of the Admin Box in February 1944, which saw Allied forces take on the Japanese in a major offensive.
The regiment’s M3 Lee tanks proved decisive in the battle and helped to thwart the Japanese attack, pioneering methods which would lead to further Allied victories over the following year.
It took many years before Ted, a former tank commander, would be able to talk about his war experience and the sights he witnessed.
After leaving the Army, he joined the Burma Star Association, which aims to promote the comradeship experienced in the bitter fighting in the jungles of Burma, and also to set up a welfare organisation so that members and widows in need can be given poverty assistance if they fall on hard times.
The invitation to visit Buckingham Palace will be Ted’s second, having previously attended a party years ago with his wife Olive, 86, in recognition of their charity work.
The couple has raised over £180,000 since they began fundraising and recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. The couple, who met on the dance floor of Vauxhall Recreation Club, have both been judges and DJs on the ballroom dancing circuit and Strictly Come Dancing’s Len Goodman is a former colleague.
Ted admitted that the pair still like to keep active, although said that they were “going to have to start slowing down a bit.”
Speaking of his latest invitation and his wardrobe dilemma, Ted said: ““I know Olive has to wear a hat, but should I wear my Burma Star beret?
“I’ll probably put on my Pagoda tie and badge. And I told them I wouldn’t need the wheelchair they offered.”
The badge of the Association, which is worn in the lapel or in the regulation green beret, incorporates a replica of the Burma Campaign Star. Permission to take advantage of this honour was supported by King George VI in consultation with Earl Mountbatten and Field Marshal Lord Slim, and the badge and title were accepted by the College of Heralds.