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Lindy McDowell: How Charles dropped a royal clanger

Published 23/09/2009

Old soldiers have expressed astonishment that Prince Charles, Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment, did not join them to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem at the weekend.

Men in their 80s and 90s, some of them disabled and many with limited means, made the effort to travel to Holland to remember their fallen comrades.

Charles, meanwhile, was on his hols in Scotland. He is said to have claimed 'other commitments'. Which is a new way of saying 'taking it easy'.

Should anybody be surprised that he didn't show up? The Royal Family, with all its many expensive hangers-on, seems incapable of mustering a representative to recognise the enormity of sacrifice of those who fought for King and country back then - and Queen and country now.

Would it be beyond the Royals, for example, to send one of their number to attend repatriation ceremonies when the bodies of young soldiers are returned from Afghanistan?

They don't have to stand in the streets of Wootton Bassett as the coffins pass. But a private meeting with relatives would surely mean a lot.

What stops them doing this appears to be a heady round of 'other commitments' - holidays, nightclubs, you name it.

Those who fought for their country deserve to be treated better.

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