The Queen In Kent

The Queen has met members of 36 Engineer Regiment and The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers.

Her majesty visited Invicta Park Barracks in Maidstone which has been the home of the Queen's Gurkha Engineers since 1949.

During the day she saw the 5,000th recruit to the Gurkha Engineers being sworn in, as well as the commissioning of three Gurkha officers. The Queen also met wounded soldiers and their families, before lunch at the barracks.

The visit marks a change of role for the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers and 36 Engineer Regiment, which will become an Advanced Search Regiment.

It will support Counter Improvised Explosive Device Operations in Afghanistan for the next five years, which will be some of the most dangerous work in the country.

The change of role also means the regiment will provide high assurance search before and during the 2012 Olympics

During the visit the Queen received a traditional Nepalese garland from a soldier's daughter.

Queen Invicta Park Barracks in Maidstone

Ten-year-old Dilasha Rai, whose father is Gurkha soldier Lance Corporal Bhimal Rai, presented her with the blue and red creation which the Queen wore around her neck.

About 1,000 guests watched the royal visitor, dressed in a turquoise outfit, as more than 250 soldiers paraded before her in the regimental square.

Queen Invicta Park Barracks in Maidstone

 

In a marquee by the Officers' Mess, the Queen met families of soldiers who have been or are due to be deployed to war zones, and she also met Sapper Ashley Hall, 20, who lost both legs in a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan last year.

Queen Invicta Park Barracks in Maidstone

Among the soldiers' relatives she spoke to was Claire Clarkson-Kearsley, 29, whose husband, Commander Michael Clarkson-Kearsley, is due to be sent to Afghanistan next month.

She said: "The Queen asked us when our husbands and partners are due to be deployed and I said mine was due to go in March.

"She also asked how many tours of duties he had been on. She was lovely. I felt myself go red as I was talking to her.''

The Queen also asked after Sapper Adam Lee when speaking to his girlfriend, Tilly Lambert, 20, from Ewhurst Green, near Bodiam, East Sussex.

Miss Lambert said: "She was amazing. She asked after my boyfriend and where he was. I said he is in Northern Ireland and she said, 'You have to get used to the Army lifestyle'.

"She was wonderful. She was elegant and very gracious - the world's best grandma, in my opinion.''

Also granted a talk with the Queen was Karnamaya Pun, 33, whose husband is Staff Sergeant Raju Pun. She said: "She was really nice. She asked how long we had been here and I said 10 years. It was a real privilege to meet her.''

36 Engineer Regiment has been stationed in Maidstone since 1949 and has been involved in major operations including the Falklands conflict, the Troubles in Northern Ireland and latterly in Afghanistan.

It is currently undergoing a transformation as it develops into an advanced search regiment. It will support counter-improvised explosive device operations in Afghanistan for the next five years.

The regiment will also provide support to the civil authorities before and during the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Queen's Gurkha Engineers have been involved in every regimental deployment since their arrival at 36 Engineer Regiment.



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