The Duke of Sussex, Captain General of the Royal Marines, handed the regiment’s coveted Green Beret to soldiers in Devon on Wednesday as he watched them complete their arduous commando training. Prince Harry was in Bickleigh near Plymouth to present the berets to two dozen Marines at the end of their final training exercise, a 30 mile trek across Dartmoor.
The Duke of Sussex headed out on to the moor for the presentation ceremony as he spent the day with 42 Commando. Harry, who took over as Captain General from the Duke of Edinburgh in 2017, acknowledged just what a special moment this was for the marines, saying ”this is an enormous privilege for yourselves to get the green beret. I am fully aware of how lucky I am to be wearing the green beret without doing what you’ve done”.
Harry was referring to the tough training needed to be presented with the beret. Marines have to complete a 32 week course culminating with that 30 mile march across Dartmoor, carrying 45 pounds of equipment. They have to finish that last stage in eight hours to succeed.
The Duke of Sussex’s visit made a big impression on the soldiers with Marine Rowan Birch saying ”you see and hear about Prince Harry going off on trips – and here he is, which is brilliant. I was a bit star struck.” Another Marine, James Reynolds, said ”to have someone as big as Prince Harry here at the end of the 30-miler, it feels special. It’s not every day you get him handing him your green beret.”
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Major General Charlie Strickland, Commandant General of the Royal Marines, explained that this latest visit was part of a year long programme designed to introduce the new Captain General to the Corps. ”42 Commando is his latest ‘port of call’, a chance to learn about this specialist unit”, he said, adding ”to receive their green berets…from their Captain General is incredibly special”.
Harry’s visit to Bickleigh also gave him a chance to learn more about specialist teams within 42 Commando who are on standby to deploy around the world. He also met those involved in training including Knocker, who became a Royal Marine in 1945 and who has been supporting recruits and commandos for fifty years. During his time in Devon, the Duke of Sussex also saw a Joint Personnel Recovery demonstration which involved Royal Marines disembarking from a helicopter and simulating the rescue of a pilot.
The Duke of Sussex has made his role with the Royal Marines a focus in February. Last week he travelled to Norway to watch the 50th anniversary of Exercise Clockwork.