AROUND 90 sailors were honoured with service medals by Prince Harry during his visit to Portsmouth Naval Base.
It was the first time the Prince – who has the honorary role of Commodore-in-Chief Small Ships and Diving – has conducted a medals ceremony.
He arrived dressed in his army uniform to award Operation Telic medals to the ship’s companies of HMS Shoreham, Grimsby and Middleton, who had served on the minehunting ships in Iraqi waters last year.
It was an extra special day for Able Seaman Grant Mallion – not only was it his first service medal, but his 20th birthday as well.
‘It was a great honour,’ he said, adding: ‘He wished me a happy birthday and talked to me about the rugby and asked if I was watching it. He said we should win.’
Leading Seaman Samantha Dixon, 24, was delighted to meet the Prince.
She said: ‘It was nerve-wracking to start off with but once he started talking it was fine. He was a lot more down to earth than I was expecting.’
After presenting medals to sailors, the Prince was given a tour of the minehunter HMS Cattistock.
Navy diver Richard Stanley showed the Prince his diving gear. Afterwards, he said: ‘He (Prince Harry) was really chilled, which is not what I expected really.
‘It’s something I will never forget. He was a really nice guy.’
Petty Officer Andrew Brighty, 43, from Fareham, said: ‘It’s a privilege to be recognised for the job we do.’