Prince pays 'traditional' visit to injured troops

The Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister paid a morale-boosting pre-Christmas visit to injured troops being treated at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine.

Prince Charles and David Cameron arrived amid light but persistent snow yesterday to visit service personnel being cared for at the unit at the newly-opened Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Charles has made regular visits in recent years to the RCDM, which moved its medical facilities to the new hospital from the nearby Selly Oak Hospital in June, and invited the Prime Minister to join him for yesterday's private visit.

Helen Gyves, matron for critical care, said the Prince showed a deep interest in the military patients, some of them severely injured and the Prime Minister's presence made the visit doubly special.

Ms Gyves said: "They particularly love Prince Charles. From the military point of view, he is their icon.

"He always comes throughout the year but it's turning into a bit of a tradition that he comes at Christmas.

"He knows which regiment each patient is from and he often knows how their injuries have happened.

"To them, for him to come is very special."

A message of support for troops also came from the Archbishop of York yesterday describing them as "real heroes" and the "bravest and best" armed forces in the world.

Dr John Sentamu said the country owed a "massive debt of gratitude" to troops serving in countries such as Afghanistan.

"I want to say a big 'thank you' to all our armed services," he said.

"You are the best and bravest servicemen in the world and we all owe you a massive debt of gratitude for what you do."