Smiling Camilla says she felt 'very proud' to be part of Philip's funeral in first public appearance since ceremony

·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read
The Duchess of Cornwall during her first visit to 5th Battalion The Rifles, following her new appointment as Colonel-in-Chief, at Bulford Station in Wiltshire. Picture date: Friday May 7, 2021.
The Duchess of Cornwall during her first visit to 5th Battalion The Rifles after her appointment last summer as Colonel-in-Chief. (PA)

The Duchess of Cornwall has said she felt proud of the regiment which she took over from Prince Philip during his funeral as she made her first public appearance since he was laid to rest.

Camilla, 73, was in Wiltshire to visit 5th Battalion The Rifles, and spoke to some of those involved with the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh on 17 April.

Camilla took over as colonel-in-chief from Philip of The Rifles in July 2020, and the handover ceremony was a rare public engagement for the duke after his retirement.

The battalion has recently returned from a mission in Estonia. 

Speaking to one of the soldiers who was at the funeral, Camilla said: "You all looked perfect. I felt very proud to be part of it."

Although Camilla has been busy working on her Reading Room initiative since the period of royal mourning ended, she has not been seen out and about since the funeral.

The Duchess of Cornwall meets Colour Sergeant Jerry Wiredu during her first visit to 5th Battalion The Rifles, following her new appointment as Colonel-in-Chief, at Bulford Station in Wiltshire. Picture date: Friday May 7, 2021.
The Duchess of Cornwall meets Colour Sergeant Jerry Wiredu during her first visit to 5th Battalion The Rifles, following her new appointment as Colonel-in-Chief, at Bulford Station in Wiltshire. (PA)
The Duchess of Cornwall during her first visit to 5th Battalion The Rifles, following her new appointment as Colonel-in-Chief, at Bulford Station in Wiltshire. Picture date: Friday May 7, 2021.
The duchess wore a special coat complete with bugle buttons. (PA Images)

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At the visit on Friday morning, she met Colour Sergeant Jerry Wiredu, who was in the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle for Philip’s funeral.

Sgt Wiredu, who was born in Ghana, said: "It was the greatest honour to be part of it because he was our colonel-in-chief of our regiment and he had handed over duties.

"It was one of the last he handed over and it was the last public engagement he did.

"To be in the group of the ‘special relationship’ which he handpicked on such an occasion was heartwarming.

"I was in the Quadrangle with the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the Army. The Army was made up of units that he handpicked to be there."

The Duchess of Cornwall meets Lieutenant Colonel Jim Hadfield MBE during her first visit to 5th Battalion The Rifles, following her new appointment as Colonel-in-Chief, at Bulford Station in Wiltshire. Picture date: Friday May 7, 2021.
The Duchess of Cornwall meeting Lieutenant Colonel Jim Hadfield MBE. (PA)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: The Band of the Rifles is seen ahead of the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Kirsty O'Connor/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Band of the Rifles at the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle on 17 April. (Getty)

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He added: "I am from Ghana and I am a citizen of the Commonwealth, and have watched him over the years and seen his contribution to the Commonwealth and the Duke of Edinburgh Award, of which there are many beneficiaries in Ghana,” he said.

“I was awestruck to be there to represent the regiment and Ghana and the Commonwealth.”

Camilla also met Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Sarah Troughton and Lieutenant Colonel Jim Hadfield during the visit.

Addressing, the duchess, Lt Col Hadfield said: “It has been an extremely busy year for your 5th Battalion, with both preparation to deploy to Estonia, and the seven months deployed.

“It is our first week back from our post-operational tour leave and it is a really fitting moment to publicly say thank you to everybody here and also those members of the battalion who are not here.

“A huge thanks to you for visiting us and it means a huge amount for you to visit your regiment.”

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle on July 22, 2020 in Windsor, England. The Duke of Edinburgh has been Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles since its formation in 2007. HRH served as Colonel-in-Chief of successive Regiments which now make up The Rifles since 1953. The Duchess of Cornwall was appointed Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles in 2007. (Photo by Samir Hussein/	Samir Hussein/WireImage )
The transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief to Camilla in July 2020 was the last engagement Philip took on. (Samir Hussein/WireImage )

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In reply, Camilla said: “Can I say what a huge pleasure it is for me to come back to Bulford. I know it pretty well in my role as Royal Colonel of 4 Rifles and it is particularly nice to come back again and meet all of you for the first time and really to thank you for all you are doing on your wonderful tour of Estonia.

“I know it was very challenging. I also wanted to particularly thank all your families, your partners, for keeping the home fires burning while you were away and doing such a fantastic job keeping the morale up.

“I hope this will be first of many visits and how much I have enjoyed meeting you all and how proud I am now to be your colonel-in-chief.

“I hope to see you all again when more restrictions are lifted.”

Camilla was there to hand out some long service and good conduct medals and also to oversee the ceremony appointing a new regimental sergeant major.

She wore a dress designed by Fiona Clare underneath the green Rifles coat dress with black bugle buttons and Rifles brooch. 

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