Belfast Telegraph

Prince drops in, but there’s no royal homework pardon

By Lesley-Anne McKeown and John Mulgrew

Prince Edward has turned down a Belfast pupil’s appeal for a royal reprieve to get out of doing his school homework.

The Earl of Wessex was visiting Lagan College on the outskirts of the city as part of a one-day visit.

During a presentation in the school’s hall, one year eight pupil — Michael Hare — asked the prince if he would sign a royal pardon.

The document would have “pardoned all year eight pupils from any homework not done”.

Unfortunately for the young student the prince failed to play along and did not sign the document.

He presented the document as the prince cut a cake to celebrate the school’s 30th anniversary.

“He said: ‘This is absolutely great and very tempting’,” Michael added.

But although his grand gesture was rebuffed by the prince, young Michael said pupils were not given any homework by their teachers.

Prince Edward also met with staff and other pupils and saw demonstrations of experiments in a science classroom during the visit to mark the integrated school’s 30th anniversary.

The prince later addressed around 400 soldiers and their families at Abercorn Barracks in Ballykinler, where he paid tribute to the effort and sacrifice of the Co Down based unit, 2nd Battalion The Rifles.

Medals presented to troops recently returned from Afghanistan might not heal the wounds of war but they do demonstrate the UK’s “immense gratitude” to those who laid their life on the line, he said.

“Well done,” the prince told the crowd. “Congratulations on a job well done and welcome home.”

Soldiers from 2 Rifles were deployed to Helmand province last September. They worked hand-in-hand with the Afghan National Army (ANA) helping it plan and execute eight massive operations and accompanying the ANA on more than 1,000 patrols through the Upper Gereshk Valley during their six-month stint.

Background

More than 600 soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Rifles are based at Ballykinler barracks. The unit has been deployed on operations in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

During a tour of duty in Helmand province in 2010, 14 Co Down-based soldiers were killed and another 24 suffered life-changing injuries including double and triple amputations.

Among those killed was Captain Mark Hale from Dromore who died while trying to save a wounded colleague. His widow, Brenda Hale, is now a DUP MLA for Lagan Valley.

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