Soldiers from across the Welsh Regiments were treated to a special visit from the Monarch as he greeted personnel and staff at the headquarters for the British Army in Wales. This was King Charles’s first official visit to Cymru following the Coronation.
A 21-gun Royal Salute, fired by Reservists from 104 Regiment Royal Artillery as soon as His Majesty The King arrived in the town at midday, was the first of its kind to take place in Brecon.
Upon his approach to the Barracks, the Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh Band struck up the National Anthem, the music coming to a halt just before His Majesty’s vehicle approached an Honour Guard near the Officers’ Mess.
It is a moment of national and Royal significance and we are all very grateful and privileged to be able to be part of the day.” Brigadier Nick Thomas CBE
The King was greeted by the Commander for 160th (Welsh) Brigade and head of the Army in Wales, Brigadier Nick Thomas CBE, who himself took up his new post quite recently.
“For all of us present today, it is an honour and privilege to welcome our Sovereign and Commander-in-Chief to the Headquarters of the Army in Wales,” said Brigadier Thomas.
“Many of those involved today played a role in the Coronation and many are serving with Welsh Regiments and the Brigade of Gurkhas, all of which His Majesty has close connections with.
“We also have on parade the soldiers who provide ceremonial operations in Wales, including the Royal Gun Salutes.
“The soldiers and officers of 104 Regiment Royal Artillery had the honour of firing the first Royal Gun Salute to take place in Brecon, marking the arrival of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen.
“There are also a great many members of our families present here today and this represents a very special and exciting moment for them all.
“It is a moment of national and Royal significance and we are all very grateful and privileged to be able to be part of the day.”
Award for gallantry
The King was invited to sign the Brigade visitors’ book, before meeting with Farrier Major Mark Holland and Lance Corporal Emrys Forlan Jones, the Regimental Welsh mountain pony mascot for 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG), and also Sergeant (Sgt) Mark Jackson, Goat Major for Lance Corporal Shenkin IV, the Regimental Goat for 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh.
Major Alex Rabbitt, 160 Brigade Chief of Staff, then read out a citation detailing an award for gallantry in respect of Sergeant Adam Humphreys of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Cavalry).
Adam was a Troop Sergeant within QDG’s C Squadron during a United Nations peacekeeping tour of Mali. Their mission involved conducting desert patrols in eastern Mali to protect civilians and deter terrorist armed groups who threatened peace.
The citation reads: “Sgt Humphreys demonstrated exemplary gallantry in the face of the enemy on three separate occasions. His selfless courage, presence of mind and decisive acts in the face of enemy fire also saved the lives of two British soldiers.
“Sgt Humphreys’ judgment, composure and understanding of the wider context of his actions were peerless and in the finest traditions of the British Army. For his outstanding bravery in the face of enemy fire and for saving the lives of his comrades, Sgt Humphreys has been Mentioned in Despatches.”
The King then presented Adam with his award before a group photograph outside the Brigade’s headquarters building, then going on to meet members of other Welsh units, both Regular and Reserve, as well as those personnel who were involved in last year’s Royal Proclamation ceremonies and this year’s Coronation Royal Gun Salute at Cardiff Castle.
There was also representation from Gurkha personnel and training instructors working at the Infantry Battle School (IBS) at Dering Lines in Brecon, recently involving the training of members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Around 100 Gurkha soldiers make up the Training Support Division at IBS, who post in from across the Brigade of Gurkhas for up to two years and there has been a Gurkha presence in Brecon since 1974.
Captain David Spencer, Adjutant at IBS, said it was a real honour for staff to meet with the King and something they would not forget.
He said: “The Training Support Division holds a wide mix of trained individuals such as snipers, drivers, engineers, machine gunners, chefs, pioneers and others.
“Without their support the Infantry Battle School could not deliver the realistic and demanding world-class training that ensures the more than 3,000 officers and soldiers, who take part annually, meet the Dismounted Close Combat standard and leave Dering Lines with the British Army leadership skills required for onward deployments.
“In addition to the incredible work they do with training, Gurkha soldiers are an integral part of the social fabric in South Wales and are the lead for community engagement within Brecon. The Brecon Military Show and bonfire nights are significant events in the local calendar and the Freedom of Brecon takes place every year with a ceremonial parade in the town centre.
“It was a privilege for personnel from IBS to take part in this Royal visit from His Majesty The King.”