Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

From silver service to paper plate

Prince Harry lining up at the self-service food section behind fellow Apache pilot Simon Beattie
Prince Harry eats with fellow air crew in the dining facility at Camp Bastion

Prince Harry joins his comrades for dinner at the Camp Bastion cookhouse.

With silver service at Buckingham Palace all but a distant memory, the royal queues up alongside squaddies and officers alike to pile hearty "scoff" on to a paper plate.

Wearing his combat uniform, the 28-year-old Army captain opts for chicken, broccoli, cheesy potatoes and salad before pulling up a collapsible metal chair to tuck into his meal with plastic cutlery at a table with a red and white plastic cloth. And as the Helmand base is completely alcohol-free, Harry chooses water to wash down his meal.

The Prince shares a joke with the other aircrew in his Apache flight of four pilots as the soldiers around him carry on eating their meals. At the end of each table lie piles of SA80 rifles because security rules on the military base dictate troops must be within arm's reach of their loaded weapons.

The cookhouse, also known as the D-Fac (dining facility), serves up thousands of meals a day for the servicemen and women at Camp Bastion.

Breakfast is available from 5.30am to 8.30am every day and consists of a full English fry-up, porridge, Danish pastries, cereals, fruit and toast. For lunch the troops can choose from a sandwich bar, with cold meats and salads, a range of hot meals, and desserts such as yoghurt, doughnuts or fruit.

The menu for dinner, served between 6pm and 8pm, has an array of hot dishes - from curries to joints of beef and lamb to fish and chips - and hot and cold puddings, including crumble, chocolate brownies, lemon meringue pie and ice cream.

The D-Fac caters mainly for the British troops based at Bastion but servicemen and women from the Norwegian, Estonian, United States and Georgian forces also have the option of eating there.

Harry's working hours as an attack helicopter pilot mean he quite often eats at his VHR (very high readiness) station.

But if he does go to the cookhouse he tends to go late to avoid the crowds - who sometimes have "a good old gawp".

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