A military band was drafted in at the last minute to perform at a medal presentation ceremony hosted by the Princes of Wales, after colleagues were seconded to help with River Thames flood defences.
The Band Of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth was due to play at the ceremony and subsequent reception at St James’s Palace.
But they were called up to help yesterday afternoon as towns and villages close to the Thames battled to keep the flood waters at bay.
Colleagues from their sister band in Plymouth stepped in and despite not having time to rehearse gave a flawless performance.
At the ceremony members of the Commando Helicopter Force were presented with operational service medals for serving in Afghanistan.
The Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) – affectionately known as the ‘Junglies’ after its troops served in the dense jungles of Borneo in the 1960s – is made up of 845 and 847 Naval Air Squadrons.
Charles has a special attachment to the CHF dating back to 1974 when he trained as a Commando helicopter pilot at the force’s base, RNAS Yeovilton, and deployed as a helicopter pilot on HMS Hermes to the Caribbean and Eastern Canadian waters.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘The Royal Marines’ Portsmouth band were told they were needed to help with flood defences on the Thames at about 2pm yesterday.’
He explained that the musicians serve as medics on the battlefield when not performing ceremonial duties and also serve as ‘assault guides’ moving troops around ships.