‘A very rare and precious letter’: Prince Charles reveals his longing for news from soldier son Harry in Christmas message for the troops
The Prince of Wales paid tribute to servicemen and women serving abroadHe said the nation owes them an 'everlasting debt of gratitude'Prince Charles's Christmas message was broadcast to soldiers this morning
14:30 GMT, 26 December 2012
Prince Charles has asked his son Harry to write more letters home from Camp Bastion in Afghanistan where he has been stationed since September.
The Prince of Wales joked that replies to letters sent to Prince Harry on the frontline are 'rare and precious' in a Christmas radio broadcast to troops serving overseas.
He encouraged all servicemen and women to write home over the festive period.
The Prince also used the message to pay tribute to UK soldiers serving abroad saying that the nation owes them an 'everlasting debt of gratitude.'
Scroll down to hear Prince Charles's message…
Christmas message: Prince Charles, pictured at St James's Palace last week, left, has urged servicemen and women – including son Prince Harry, right – to write home more in a festive message played to soldiers
In a festive message, recorded last week at St James's Palace and aired this morning, the Prince said all those stationed abroad were very much in his thoughts and prayers.
He added: 'I also wanted to pay tribute to the extraordinary contribution made by those of you who belong to our Armed Forces, in all sorts of different parts of the world.
'Nowhere is your fortitude and relentless courage more clearly on display than in Afghanistan, where your resilience, patience and determination to see the job through – usually in impossibly difficult conditions and circumstances – is, quite simply, humbling.'
Prince Charles's message was aired on the British Forces Broadcasting Service radio at 11am on the Total Ops Connection programme which is broadcast around the world from Camp Bastion.
The Prince is Colonel-in-Chief of four of regiments serving in Afghanistan – The Royal Dragoon Guards, Army Air Corps, The Royal Gurkha Rifles and The Mercian Regiment – and he said he knew about the hardships troops face because of the regular reports from his units – and the occasional contact with Harry.
Festive: Troops at a Christmas carol service in Camp Bastion Afghanistan. Prince Charles said that the UK owes soldiers serving abroad an 'eternal debt'
Tucking in: (left to right) Lance Corporal Carlos Da Costa from Jamaica, Corporal Al Butterfill from Doncaster and SAC Curtis Shield from Blackpool enjoy Christmas dinner in Helmand province in Afghanistan yesterday
Festive spirit: Sergeant Beth Wilson from Bolton (right) serves mulled wine to Corporal Suzanne Wharton from Carlisle in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Prince Charles today paid tribute to soldiers serving abroad
He said: 'I am well aware of the discomfort and privations you all endure with seemingly endless reserves of good humour.
'In addition to the intense heat and dust of the summer and the freezing winters, you face the constant, terrifying threat of IEDs (improvised explosive devices), attacks from rockets, grenades and small arms fire almost every day – and sometimes these attacks come from infiltrators hidden among those who are supposed to be working alongside you as allies.
'And yet you all seem to bounce back in an almost unbelievable way, despite the setbacks and vicious insurgent attacks.'
He added: 'With two sons currently serving in the Armed Forces, one of whom is with you all out there, I really do have at least some understanding of what your loved ones on the 'home front' are going through.'
He said servicemen and women could keep in touch with relatives through phone calls and the internet 'or, in the case of my younger son, to receive a very rare and precious letter in answer to mine'.
In a picture released today to accompany the broadcast, the Prince is shown sitting at a table with a microphone in front of him and on the left lapel of his suit he wears four military badges.
He also wears the Army Air Corps tie.
Charles ended his broadcast by saying: 'Finally, I would just like to reinforce a point that I have been trying to make for many years now – that our country is incredibly lucky to have people like yourselves and that we owe you an everlasting debt of gratitude for all that you do and mean to us.'
Listen to the message here…
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