RELATIVES of serving soldiers in the Gulf were given a boost when Princes Charles paid them a special visit.

Families and children from Marlborough Infant School cheered as the Prince arrived at the Connaught Community Centre in North Camp on Tuesday.

More than 250 people were there so there was a big reception when he arrived.

Garrison Commander Col Stephen Oxlade said that, with 2,500 soldiers deployed in the conflict and 300 families affected, the visit was a huge boost.

“They’ve all been looking forward to this,” he said.

“It’s smashing he can give up his time to come here and lend his support to those whose loved ones are in the Gulf. I know they all appreciate it.”

Prince Charles spent nearly two hours chatting informally with relatives asking them how they were coping with loved ones away.

by his warm sincerity. Others said he had a brilliant sense of humour.

It is not the first time Pam Hoad’s husband Col Nigel Hoad has been away to war with the army medics from Frimley Park. She welcomed the visit.

“It’s very important especially the wives who are doing this for the first time. Many of them

have got young kids and the only contact they have is by letters. It’s very hard.”

Ellen Choto was there with her four-month-old daughter Janet (pictured above). She said she felt honoured that Prince Charles was asking after her partner Pte Tanaka Choto who is with 27 Regt RLC.

“I can’t believe I met him. He shook my hand. It’s the most amazing thing.”

She said she was sure everyone felt better knowing he was concerned about them.

Wendy Jackson’s husband is with 9 (Para) Sqn, Royal Engineers. She welcomed the visit saying the children were over the moon to meet him and the Prime Minister (last week).

“He laughed when I told him my son asked Tony Blair how old he was. The prince then joked and asked him to guess how old he was.”

Families of 10 Transport Reg, 7 para RHA, 22 Field Hospital and the Royal Gurhka Logistic Regiment were also there.

Gurkha wives added a splash of colour to the Prince’s farewell by presenting him with garlands. An enthusiastic crowd waved goodbye, their spirits lifted by the prince’s visit.

Last week Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie visited the town in a morale boost to army wives.