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Prince Harry's sky-diving exploits revealed in dad's Colchester visit

  • Watch a report on Prince Charles' visit to Colchester by ITV News Anglia's Malcolm Robertson

Prince Harry has been revealed as a "natural" sky-diver as his father was being honoured at a visit to Colchester Barracks in Essex

During the Prince of Wales' trip to Merville Barracks it was revealed that his youngest son has been skydiving with the Army's Red Devils display team, learning how to land with precision.

Harry joined up with the famous flying Paras and was taught how to drop out of the clouds with the group, which performs across the country.

The prince's exploits came to light when the Prince of Wales celebrated his 40th anniversary as Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment by watching a Red Devils display with hundreds of the soldiers' families and friends.

Members of the Red Devils Parachute Regiment during a demonstration attended by The Prince of Wales. Credit: Chris Radburn/EMPICS Entertainment

As the seven-man team, all serving Paras, trailed red smoke as they hurtled to the ground, their commanding officer Captain Joe Palmer told the crowds that Prince Harry had been skydiving and "he's a natural".

Later, a spokesman for the Red Devils said: "The prince joined us about five years ago, when he did the same as everyone else where you learn the basic course and you jump with a couple of instructors. He picked it up quickly."

He said he believed it was Harry's first jump and he mastered the two elements of skydiving, "freefall handling" where a person is dropping through the air, and getting to grips with canopy, once the parachute is open.

Prince Charles marks 40 years as Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment by inspecting the troops in Colchester. Credit: Chris Radburn/EMPICS Entertainment

Wearing his tropical service dress and the Paras beret, the heir to the throne later gave a speech on the parade ground and described how he had learned to parachute jump.

He said: "When I was appointed to the position (of Colonel-in-Chief), I felt I couldn't look your predecessors in the eye, or even dream of wearing the red beret, without doing the parachute course.

"This freed the cat among the proverbial pigeon, but in the end I was allowed to join parachute training course 841A at Brize Norton.

Prince Charles has been Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment since 1977. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"In those days, you started by having to jump out of a creaking basked suspended below a balloon.

"This was particularly testing on the nerves as it was like jumping deliberately out of a doorway at the top of an 800ft building, with the anchoring cable disappearing, usually, into a layer of cloud that obscured the ground."

– Prince Charles
Prince Charles took the wheel of a Jackal armoured vehicle during his visit to Colchester Barracks. Credit: ITV News Anglia

To mark the 40th anniversary of the prince's association with the Parachute Regiment he watched a march-past of its four Battalions, inspected the men on parade and presented awards to some of the regiment's long-serving members.

Before leaving he was shown displays of some of the equipment used by the soldiers and took the wheel of a Jackal armoured vehicle bristling with firepower.

The heir to the throne is known to own an Aston Martin DB6 sports car but he seemed at home driving the vehicle designed for war zones.

A member of the Red Devils Parachute Regiment lands with a commemorative flag in Colchester. Credit: Chris Radburn/EMPICS Entertainment

Prince Charles visited Merville Barracks, Colchester to join with veterans, soldiers and their families to celebrate and reflect on his tenure as Colonel-in-Chief.

Since he took on the role in June 1977, the Regiment has deployed on operations in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Macedonia and Afghanistan.

The day started with the Regiment’s four battalions and its mascot Pegasus, a Shetland pony, on parade to be inspected by Prince Charles, with music from The Band of The Parachute Regiment.

The Prince of Wales inspects the Para's mascot Pegasus on a visit to Colchester Barracks. Credit: Chris Radburn/EMPICS Entertainment