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Prince Harry hands green berets to newly-qualified marines

The Duke of Sussex was made Captain General of the Royal Marines in 2017 Credit: PA

The Duke of Sussex has handed out coveted green berets to newly-qualified Royal Marines as they completed their final gruelling test.

Harry, who assumed the role of Captain General Royal Marines from the Duke of Edinburgh in December 2017, visited the base of 42 Commando in Bickleigh, Devon, on Wednesday.

He was driven to nearby Dartmoor, where he saluted and clapped as two recruit troops finished their final Commando Test.

Harry carries out a Green Beret presentation during a visit to 42 Commando Royal Marines at their base in Bickleigh. Credit: Finnbarr Webster/PA

The newly-qualified Marines jogged past Harry on the final stretch of their 30-mile march, carrying loads of 45lbs plus their rifles.

Harry presented the Marines with their green berets, which symbolically mark the end of commando training, before posing for a photograph with the group.

He told them: "This is an enormous privilege for yourselves to get the green beret.

"I am fully aware how lucky I am to be wearing the green beret without doing what you’ve done.

"For some of you, this is merely the beginning of a very, very long, very wonderful, hopefully, career of opportunities which you would never get anywhere else.

"Enjoy drill tomorrow but also remember that there are other people that haven’t managed to make it this far.

"No doubt you will have an opportunity to encourage them. Genuinely, huge congratulations."

Harry meeting 96-year-old Knocker White, a former Royal Marine. Credit: PA

Proud parents and family members were waiting at the finish line, along with former Royal Marines and supporters.

One was 96-year-old Knocker White, a former Second World War Marine who often completes the final three miles of the march with recruits.

Former Royal Marine Gareth Evans, 60, watched as his 25-year-old son Huw was handed his green beret by Harry.

Mr Evans, who retired as a sergeant in 1992, said: "I couldn't be prouder.

"It has been a long wait but we knew he would get there and he has."

Marine Evans, from Crediton, Devon, had spent the past two years, two weeks, three days and eight hours training for that moment.

Wearing his green beret for the first time, he said: "It is a long, long time. I am quite emotional.

"It was a really great feeling."

Credit: PA

When asked about the march, he said: "You just get through it, you know what’s waiting for you at the end."

He said the troop felt "lucky" to have been handed their berets by Harry.

Marine Kieran Castle, 21, from Plymouth, Devon, described the moment he was handed his beret by the prince as “an amazing experience”.

"It is quite hard to put into words how I’m feeling right now, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet," he said.

"We told him we were exhausted. He said congratulations for our efforts."

Credit: PA