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Charles praises ‘valiant service’ of Korean War veterans in reception speech

The King has praised the “valiant service” of British veterans of the Korean War in a speech read by the Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace.

Anne and the Duchess of Edinburgh hosted a reception for the veterans on behalf of Charles on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the war, in July 2023.

The King held a private audience with four of the veterans but said he was “particularly disappointed and frustrated” not to attend the reception in person.

Reception for 70th Anniversary of the Korean War
The Princess Royal read the King’s speech on his behalf at the reception (Tristan Fewings/PA)

Both Anne and Sophie have stepped up the number of their public duties in recent months as Charles receives treatment for cancer and the Princess of Wales recovers from her abdominal surgery.

It is not yet known when the King is expected to return, while Kensington Palace have said Kate will resume her public duties after Easter.

In his speech, the King said: “It has been a personal ambition of mine to invite you all, in some form, to Buckingham Palace to recognise this significant milestone and ensure you are all most deservingly honoured for your valiant service over 70 years ago.”

Charles said it was “our duty” to remember what was once called ‘the Forgotten War’, and that the veterans’ “selfless courage and steadfast pursuit of peace” would continue to inspire.

Audience at Buckingham Palace
Charles met four of the veterans ahead of the reception (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He added: “We salute all those who remain among us, and offer our most heartfelt and undying gratitude for those who have gone before.

“Your service and your sacrifice will echo through the ages.”

Around 60,000 members of the British Armed Forces served in the Korean War with more than 1,100 killed and 2,500 wounded, according to the National Army Museum.

Anne and Sophie first met the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea and representatives from the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion in the palace’s Carnarvon Room.

They spoke about the reception’s strong turnout and the experiences of the veterans in Korea before Anne noted the often freezing temperatures in the Asian country, saying: “It does get cold in Korea.”

Reception for 70th Anniversary of the Korean War
Anne spoke to many of the veterans about their experiences in Korea (Tristan Fewings/PA)

The princess and duchess then mingled and posed for photos with around 200 veterans at the reception in the Bow Room.

Anne chatted to the veterans about which regiments they served with in the conflict and when they were deployed.

One veteran, Roger Barker BEM, showed Sophie images on a family phone of him serving with the Royal Norfolk regiment during the conflict in around 1951.

Chelsea Pensioner Trevor John, 92, who served with the King’s Liverpool regiment in Korea, was on a fighting patrol with 13 other men when he got caught in mortar fire and was seriously wounded.

Reception for 70th Anniversary of the Korean War
The Duchess of Edinburgh spoke to Chelsea Pensioners at the reception, including Trevor John, far right (Tristan Fewings/PA)

Speaking about the reception, he told the PA news agency: “I think it’s nice. I was just having a little walk around to have a chat and see if I know anyone from old.

“I’ve been back to Korea twice – I think it’s a lovely country (with) the work they do. Everything is so spick and span!”

Anne concluded the event by delivering the speech on behalf of Charles, and told the audience: “I’m filling in for my senior brother.”