The Princess of Wales donned combat gear to observe and take part in military drills with the regiment of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards this morning – and she even took a seven-tonne armoured vehicle for a spin.
Kate, 41, arrived at Robertson Barracks in the village of Swanton Morley in Norfolk where the Regiment is stationed to meet troops, learn more about their operations and deliver medals to long serving officers.
Looking chic in a black blazer layered over a black polo neck and trousers, she shared an in-depth chat with another mother from one of the families involved in the regiment. She wore her thick brunette locks in a straight style, hanging down her shoulders.
Her all-black outfit comes after Carine Roitfeld, the editor of Vogue France, suggested the Princess should wear more black ‘outside of funerals’ and opt for Chanel items more often as she praised the royal’s overall sense of style but added it is a ‘bit too polished’ for her taste.
However it wasn’t long before she swapped her sleek outfit for a camouflage jacket and vest, plus a helmet, to observe military drills and drive a Jackal 2 tank – and officers described her as a ‘natural’ behind the wheel.
The Princess of Wales during her first visit to 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards at Robertson Barracks, Dareham in Norfolk, since being appointed Colonel-in-Chief by The King in August
Kate in the driver’s seat! The Princess of Wales was pictured at the helm of an armoured vehicle during a drill
Royal mother-of-three Kate was accompanied by another officer as she was shown how the regiment operates
Kate, 41, exclaimed ‘it’s really great’ after bringing the Jackal 2 vehicle to a stop, adding: ‘It’s very responsive actually, given the size of the thing.’
Corporal Darreyl Tukana, a driving instructor, sat beside Kate in the Jackal 2 on Wednesday. He drove her to a troop hide, then let her take the controls to drive them back to where they started.
He said afterwards: ‘She was a natural. She drives a Land Rover back at home – I told her it’s exactly the same, just take it slowly and go back to where we started off from.
‘She was enjoying every bit of the journey itself. It’s different from what she’s driving, it’s a bigger vehicle.’
Asked if he had to teach her much, he said: ‘Not really, I just needed to switch on a few toggle switches before start-up, because it’s different from a car.
‘But I switched it on, put it into gear and I told her it’s just like a normal car.’
He said the vehicles weigh about seven tonnes and can reach 70mph.
Kate’s visit to the The 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards is her first since she was made Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment in August this year by King Charles – and during her time with the regiment, she’ll also have the chance to promote a pony to Corporal.
As she toured the Barracks, the Princess met members of the regiment who demonstrated its operations and how they work in real time.
She was also pictured meeting families of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG) who are living in the village of Swanton Morley during a reception.
Kate Ormston, 31, whose 38-year-old husband Staff Sergeant Paul Ormston is attached to the regiment, was with their two children Joey, 10, and six-year-old Jackson when she spoke to the princess.
She said: ‘It was really exciting. She asked about Army life and my husband being deployed, and just generally she was just really down to earth and friendly, it was really nice.
‘She spoke to everyone individually, she introduced herself to the children and asked their names and ages which was really nice.
‘I think they were a little bit overwhelmed as well.’
She added: ‘She’s done it herself, hasn’t she, William’s been in the military so she knows what it’s like.’
The QDG were formed in the year 1959 from the amalgamation of the 1st King’s Dragoon Guards and the Queen’s Bays.
The regiment specialises in reconnaissance, which is the art of seeking out their enemy to learn about and understand how they operate.
Since the regiment was first formed, the QDG has moved all over the world.
From June 2021-June 2022, its troops were deployed to Mali as part of a peacekeeping operation in support of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission.
The Princess was pictured in the driving seat as she operated an armoured vehicle around the barracks
The Princess of Wales flies a drone as she visits The Queen’s Dragoon Guards Regiment
Following her military exercise, the Princess returned into the warmth so she could take part in a medal presentation ceremony for Long Service and Good Conduct
During her visit, Kate looked solemn while looking at photos of fallen soldiers of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards regiment
The Princess was described as a ‘natural’ behind the wheel of the seven-tonne Jackal 2 tank at the Norfolk barracks
The Princess took shelter from the grizzly weather undercover as she chatted to an officer about the regiment’s operations
The Princess of Wales learns how to fly a drone during her outing today in Dereham
The Princess of Wales reacts as she drives a Jackal 2 high mobility weapons platform during a visit to the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards
Combat Kate! The Princess donned her military gear to get stuck into a day of activities with the regiment
Kate appeared ready to take part in the action during her first visit to 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards at Robertson Barracks, Dareham in Norfolk, since being appointed Colonel-in-Chief by The King in August
The Princess of Wales is all smiles as she takes part in military activities during today’s outing in Norfolk
Looking the part! Kate opted for a camouflage jacket and helmet teamed with black trousers for today’s event
Towards the end of her visit, an officer presented Kate with the Queen’s Dragoon Guards Brooch to commemorate her role as Colonel-in-Chief of the QDG.
He explained that the emblem had been made for the Queen Mother in 1959 and added: ‘We hope you will wear it, as often as you like, to show that you are part of our regimental family and we look forward to… an even longer relationship with you.’
As he presented her with the emblem, Kate nodded and smiled. She replied: ‘Thank you so much… it’s been lovely to see you today.’
She added: ‘It’s beautifully made, isn’t it.’
As part of the visit, Kate was briefed on the regiment by senior officers and will learn more about the lives of servicemen and women first hand.
Among the activities lined up for the royal were lesson in how the Jackal 2 high mobility weapons platform operates, how the team communicates via radios when deployed, and how they utilise reconnaisance drones.
Her Royal Highness also awarded Long Service & Good Conduct medals to a number of servicemen and women in the regiment, and ahead of Remembrance Sunday, will take a moment with serving personnel to remember those that the QDG have lost in active service in recent years.
The Princess’s visit is her first to the regiment since she was appointed its Colonel-in-Chief by King Charles in August
From beaming to a serious facial expression; the Princess of Wales adopted a face of concentration as she observed the drills
Wearing a combat, camouflage jacket and protective vest plus helmet over her outfit, the Princess got stuck into the activities
As part of her visit to the Barracks, the Princess learnt about how the regiment operate
The Princess of Wales is greeted by a pony as she visits The Queen’s Dragoon Guards Regiment
The Princess of Wales looked stunning in a black blazer and trousers combination as she visited the 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards in Swanton Morley today
The Princess looked wrapped up for the chilly weather in a black polo neck jumper layered with a black blazer
Mother-of-three Kate chatted to other parents who are family members of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards Regiment
The Princess of Wales displayed a poppy on her lapel ahead of Armistice day on 11th November
Before she left by helicopter, Kate promoted the regimental mascot, a Bay Welsh Mountain pony called Trooper ‘Longface’ Emrys Jones, from Lance Corporal to Corporal.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Kierstead, the commanding officer of the regiment, said: “I think she enjoyed herself and all the soldiers and officers have enjoyed meeting her.”
The Queen’s Dragoon Guards specialise in reconnaissance and were recently deployed to Mali, in 2021 and 2022, as part of a peacekeeping operation.
The Queen’s Dragoon Guards have been active for more than 300 years.
The regiment was formed in 1959 from the amalgamation of the two senior Cavalry regiments, 1st King’s Dragoon Guards and The Queen’s Bays.
Kate’s visit comes as her husband Prince William continues his tour of Singapore where he is hosting this year’s Earthshot Prize.
Prince William today delivered a pitch to be King as he insisted he wants to ‘go a step further’ than his family and bring real change to the causes he supports.
The Prince of Wales praised the work of other Royal Family members ‘spotlighting’ important causes, but insisted he wanted to do more than ‘just being’ a patron.
One cause he wants to focus on is homelessness, saying he wanted to help build homes and deliver mental health support, education and employment opportunities.