CAMILLA, The Duchess of Cornwall, flew in to Portsmouth today to see the medical facilities on board the naval support ship RFA Argus.
The duchess, who wore a pale blue coat and black knee high boots, was visiting Portsmouth Naval Base for a two-hour tour of the 28,000-ton vessel which is designed to receive and treat casualties from a war zone.
Captain Paul Kehoe, the commanding ofﬁcer of RFA Argus, said: ‘This is not only a wonderful day for Argus, but for the RFA service as a whole.
‘We are very much the silent service alongside the Royal Navy, but remember, wherever they go, so do we.
‘The duchess’s visit will be great for raising the profile of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary service.’
The duchess, who is Commodore-in-Chief of Royal Naval Medical Services, was being given a two-hour tour of Argus.
The ship, which had a £37m reﬁt in 2009, boasts a 100-bed hospital facility, including a four-bay operating theatre, a 10-bed intensive care unit, 20-bed high dependency unit and two 35-bed general wards.
The Duchess watched a demonstration in which casualties from a battle arrive on board Argus.
They were bleeding from fake combat wounds and were taken on stretchers into lifs and down to one of the operating theatres.
Having spent a gory 30 minutes in an operating theatre watching a pretend leg amputation, the 63-year-old duchess was given a tour of the bridge.
Earlier she was intrigued to learn that Royal Marines bandsmen and women act as stretcher bearers on board.
‘So that means you drop your instruments to do this job, does it?’ she asked one.
‘And then you can give them a little concert afterwards when they’re recovering.’
As she gazed out of the bridge window towards the doomed aircraft carrier HMS ARK Royal, the duchess said: ‘It’s sad, very sad.’
The Dutchess left Portsmouth by car at 12.30pm.