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Royal welcome home from Mali for the Welsh Cavalry

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales was guest of honour as 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards paraded outside Cardiff City Hall marking their return home from West Africa.

The parade by the Regiment exercised its Freedom of the City and marked its return home from a United Nations peacekeeping mission in West Africa.

Families, friends, veterans, and well-wishers gathered outside the City Hall to watch the pageantry and welcome home the soldiers who are recruited from all over Wales.

His Royal Highness, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment, presented four soldiers with their United Nations medals and also presented the regimental mascot, Welsh mountain pony, Lance Corporal Emrys Forlan Jones, with the Platinum Jubilee Medal.

Private Matthew Rees (26) was one of the soldiers who received his medal from Prince Charles.

“Having the Colonel in Chief visit us has meant a lot to everyone,” he said.

“It was a great honour to be presented with my medal by Prince Charles in front of the whole Regiment and was made more special by being in the capital city of Wales."

In the past 12 months, the Regiment, known as The Welsh Cavalry, has completed two six-month UN peacekeeping tours to Mali in West Africa as part of Operation Newcombe

You brought United Nations presence and influence to areas that others could not reach, with professionalism and compassion. Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, Brigadier (Retired) Alan Richmond

The first deployment was in June 2021 and included over 70 soldiers from ‘C’ Squadron. They were followed by over 130 soldiers from ‘A’ Squadron and the Regimental Headquarters on a second deployment in December 2021.

While in Mali, the Regiment provided reconnaissance and deterrence, conducting patrols to gather intelligence and engage with the local population, helping the UN better understand how to help.

The Task Force was supported by specialist trades from across the Armed Forces including medical and Explosive Ordnance Disposal soldiers who were also  represented on the parade.

Addressing the soldiers on parade, The Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, Brigadier (Retired) Alan Richmond said: “It is clear the Long-Range Reconnaissance Group was a capable and effective part of the 14,000 strong United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali.

“Your task force could conduct patrols for weeks on end without resupply, covering up to 1000-kilometres and recovering and fixing its own vehicles.

“You brought United Nations presence and influence to areas that others could not reach, with professionalism and compassion.”

Here in the UK, B Squadron was the Rear Operations Group, ensuring that the families remaining behind were given the very best welfare support and that individual soldiers were fully prepared to deploy if needed.

The Cardiff Freedom Parade launched a series of events in the city that also saw the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment present the soldiers with their United Nations medal in a special ceremony in the stunning grounds of  Cardiff Castle.

The Cardiff activity concluded with a thanksgiving service at Llandaff Cathedral.

The soldiers will also conduct homecoming parades in Wrexham on Tuesday 12 July, in Swansea on the Friday 15 July and in Hereford on Tuesday 19 July.

The Regiment has a long history of recruiting from Wales and in 2027 will relocate from their current base in Swanton Morley, Norfolk to Caerwent.