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Queen Camilla praises bravery of British soldier who was killed while protecting his comrades in Afghanistan and posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross


The Queen paid tribute to a Grenadier Guardsman posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross when she met military families supported by the regiment’s charity.

Camilla, 76, praised the bravery of Lance Corporal James Ashworth as she chatted to his parents, Duane and Caroline Ashworth, telling them ‘I’m just full of admiration’.

She is Colonel of the Grenadier Guards and welcomed former soldiers and their families to Clarence House for a reception, her first engagement as patron of the Colonel’s Fund.

Speaking about L/Cpl Ashworth’s actions, recognised with the British armed forces’ highest military decoration, she told his parents: ‘You must be so proud, for somebody to be awarded the Victoria Cross is something else. It’s unbelievable, I read his citation and couldn’t believe it.’

L/Cpl Ashworth, 23, from Corby in Northamptonshire, was killed during an operation to eliminate a group of insurgent sharpshooters in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, in June 2012.

The Queen met with Lance Corporal James Ashworth's parents, Duane and Caroline Ashworth (pictured), and told them: 'I'm just full of admiration' regarding their son's bravery

The Queen met with Lance Corporal James Ashworth’s parents, Duane and Caroline Ashworth (pictured), and told them: ‘I’m just full of admiration’ regarding their son’s bravery 

During the firefight the soldier and his team pressed the insurgents and in the final moments L/Cpl Ashworth moved from behind a wall to get better aim to throw a grenade, exposing himself to fire and was fatally shot.

His citation read: ‘Despite the ferocity of the insurgent’s resistance, Ashworth refused to be beaten.

‘His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack. This supremely courageous and inspiring action deserves the highest recognition.’

The Colonel’s Fund was established in 2007 and provides help with mobility aid, home improvements, employment training and counselling.

Matt Elmer, a retired Grenadier Guards Colour Sergeant who serves as Regimental Casualty Officer, delivers services to those in need.

He said about the veterans whom he helps: ‘The key thing is they know I’m there. We want to get people back on their feet, so to speak.

‘They might be fine but then they might have a dip but all they have to do is pick up the phone and I am there.’

Meanwhile, King Charles III appeared in good spirits as he was seen publicly undertaking royal duties for the first time since it was announced that he has been diagnosed with cancer.

Camilla today recognised the bravery of Lance Corporal James Ashworth (pictured), who was killed during an operation to eliminate a group of insurgent sharpshooters in Afghanistan

Camilla today recognised the bravery of Lance Corporal James Ashworth (pictured), who was killed during an operation to eliminate a group of insurgent sharpshooters in Afghanistan 

In her first engagement as patron of the Colonel's Fund, Camilla also chatted with Lance Corporal Scott Blaney (left)

In her first engagement as patron of the Colonel’s Fund, Camilla also chatted with Lance Corporal Scott Blaney (left)

Lance Sgt Markus Strydom MC (left) appeared animated as he chatted with the Queen at today's event

Lance Sgt Markus Strydom MC (left) appeared animated as he chatted with the Queen at today’s event 

The 76-year-old looked pleased to talk with Sgt (retired) Carl Shadrake and his family at Clarence House today

The 76-year-old looked pleased to talk with Sgt (retired) Carl Shadrake and his family at Clarence House today 

His Majesty, 75, beamed as he met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Buckingham Palace today, having previously carried out audiences with him remotely from Sandringham.

The monarch told Mr Sunak that he has received ‘so many wonderful messages and cards’ since his shock diagnosis that he has been ‘reduced me to tears most of the time’.

The prime minister reportedly told the King that it was ‘very nice to see you’, to which Charles responded: ‘A bit of a gap… I’m afraid.’

Mr Sunak also said it was ‘wonderful to see you looking so well,’ to which the King jokingly replied: ‘Well, it’s all done by mirrors, really.’

Before the pair’s private discussion, the King also met with members of the Privy Council in person on Tuesday evening. 

The Colonel's Fund event allowed Camilla to meet with fund members and beneficiaries, including Sgt (retired) Carl Shadrake (pictured)

The Colonel’s Fund event allowed Camilla to meet with fund members and beneficiaries, including Sgt (retired) Carl Shadrake (pictured)

Dressed in a red dress, Her Majesty appeared in high spirts as she chatted with Mandy Bainbridge (pictured left)

Dressed in a red dress, Her Majesty appeared in high spirts as she chatted with Mandy Bainbridge (pictured left) 

Meanwhile, King Charles met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Buckingham Palace today, with the pair seen smiling during their first face-to-face meeting since the monarch's cancer diagnosis

Meanwhile, King Charles met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Buckingham Palace today, with the pair seen smiling during their first face-to-face meeting since the monarch’s cancer diagnosis

Charles’ profound sense of duty and strong work-ethic has seen him continue working privately through treatment, but this is the first time the King has been pictured carrying out royal duties.

The monarch is pausing public engagements as he undergoes treatment for an unspecified form of cancer.

It was discovered by doctors while Charles was treated for an enlarged prostate in late January.

His diagnosis was announced by Buckingham Palace just days later as it was confirmed doctors had noticed a ‘separate issue of concern’.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reassured the nation when he previously said that King Charles’ disease had been ‘caught early’. 

The monarch is now spending much of his time at his Norfolk retreat in Sandringham, although sources say he is well enough to continue a small number of face-to-face meetings. He will also be carrying out some duties remotely.

Among the work he will continue to carry out is his daily perusal of his red boxes of paperwork, containing all his documents of state. 

In a letter released shortly a week after the news was announced, King Charles thanked the British public for their ‘many messages of support and good wishes’. 

He continued: ‘As all those who have been affected by cancer will know, such kind thoughts are the greatest comfort and encouragement. 

‘It is equally heartening to hear how sharing my own diagnosis has helped promote public understanding and shine a light on the work of all those organisations which support cancer patients and their families across the UK and wider world.

‘My lifelong admiration for their tireless care and dedication is all the greater as a result of my own personal experience.’

Members of the Royal family have rallied around the King, with Prince William returning to duties after spending time caring for his wife Princess Kate.

In a separate health scare, the Princess of Wales had been admitted to The London Clinic for planned abdominal surgery, and she will not be able to perform any royal engagements until at least Easter.



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