Belfast Telegraph

Charles in visit to army boxers

The gloves were off as the Prince of Wales toured an army boxing gym during a visit to Northern Ireland.

Charles never flinched as members of the Mercian Regiment pummelled pads or skipped a short distance away.

Soldiers at Palace Barracks near Belfast are preparing for a tournament with their Scottish rivals and the workrate was intense.

The prince joked to one youthful competitor: "You have not been knocked out yet?" as he shook hands before posing for photographs inside the ring.

This was the second day of Charles and Camilla's visit to Northern Ireland.

The Prince is colonel-in-chief of the Mercian Regiment, which was formed in 2007 in Staffordshire.

The Northern Ireland-based battalion 2 Mercian has undertaken five tours of duty in Afghanistan and is one of the most decorated in the British army, having served in all four corners of Helmand.

This was Charles's second visit to meet 2 Mercian.

The boxers were training hard in preparation for tomorrow night's tournament against a boxing team from the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The battalion is moving shortly to Chester as part of wider army reforms. Palace Barracks will become home to 1 Scots.

The Duchess of Cornwall spent time with families before joining children for an Easter egg hunt in the garrison church.

Charles also met soldiers in the cookhouse canteen.

Lieutenant Colonel Shove Gilby, commanding officer of 2 Mercian, said he was delighted to host the royal couple.

"It is very special. We have got a unique bond with the Prince and we treasure it and every time he comes to see us it is a really great day for all the boys, all the families and the children to foster that special relationship that we have with the Royal Family."

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