War veteran's royal appointment nearly derailed

A falklands veteran from Northumberland yesterday told how he nearly missed a reception with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

A falklands veteran from Northumberland yesterday told how he nearly missed a reception with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

Some 150 veterans attended the lunchtime drinks reception at St James's Palace to mark the 25th anniversary of the campaign.

Many of those present were drawn from regiments and military organisations the Prince has connections to, including the Welsh Guards and the Parachute Regiment.

Charles - who was sporting a white carnation and wearing the official tie of Falklands veterans' organisation the South Atlantic Medal Association (SAMA) - and Camilla greeted guests at the palace's state department.

David Barclay, 48, travelled to the reception with his wife Davina and seven-year-old son, Connor, from Morpeth.

But the family nearly missed their big moment when their train terminated at Newcastle and they were forced to fly to London for the event.

Mr Barclay, who was a private in the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment, said it had been worth it.

He said: "Charles was my colonel-in-chief, it means a lot to me to come back here and see him."

Mr Barclay said the Duchess asked Connor if he had enjoyed last week's parade.

He added: "She asked what Battalion I was in, and I told her I was involved in the battle of Mount Longdon and what it meant to me to be here.

"I told her it had taken 20 years to put the ghosts to rest and to come down here and see some of the guys. I never felt it was right to come back before."

Mr Barclay said the Prince asked whether he knew the farmers that helped his regiment during the campaign and he said he did.

Bryan George, 52, from Hailsham, East Sussex, and Sam Copeland, 49, from Wrexham served together in 3 Company, the Welsh Guards as a Section Commander and Lance Corporal respectively.

Mr George, a refuse driver, said the Prince was very keen to hear about their families and what they are currently doing.

He said: "He asked about our marriages, how many children and grandchildren we had. I told him I had four daughters who have all left home and four grandchildren.

"He also asked what we're doing now and if we are well."

The Prince himself stood to attention and saluted Sir Jeremy Moore, commander of all land forces in the Falklands campaign.

Sir Jeremy said: "We spoke about all sorts of things. He's very interested in what the men are doing now."

The 74-day occupation of the remote British overseas territory ended on June 14 1982.

On June 14 this year, war heroes and those they liberated stood in silence 8,000 miles apart to mark the anniversary and remember the fallen.

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