PRINCE Charles is to make his first visit to a memorial to an elite military base established by his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten in the Second World War.
The prince is patron of the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPP) Memorial Fund and will view the granite statute erected in memory of the covert surveillance team, on Hayling Island next month.
He will also visit the National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) – the UK’s flagship coastguard centre in Fareham.
Robin Walton, the chairman of the fund, approached Charles several years ago with his plans and a request for him to become patron of the organisation.
It was then suggested by the prince that granite from his Duchy of Cornwall estate be used for the memorial, which sits on Hayling Common overlooking the beaches where the elite teams of sailors and soldiers were trained as frogmen and canoeists.
They carried out covert beach explorations prior to allied landings on enemy occupied territory across the world.
The COPP servicemen were trained to search selected coastlines to ensure the safe landing of tanks and heavy armoured vehicles on enemy land. Their work was vital to the success of many landings across the world, in particular the D-Day landings.
Mr Walton said he was honoured to be welcoming the prince to Hayling on July 1.
He said: ‘We first approached Prince Charles four years ago. He was an obvious choice to be patron because of his links with Lord Mountbatten.
‘We wrote to him and then visited him at Clarence House where we told him all about the project.
‘This will be the first time he has seen the memorial and we think he will be rather taken with the form it’s taken.
‘It looks very natural against the seafront setting. It will be an honour to have him here.’
The prince will meet COPP veterans Jim Booth and Stanley Pond.
He will also take a tour of the new National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) in Fareham.
HM Coastguard’s new national network is the first point of call for 999 calls ranging from vessels in distress, to people trapped at sea and cliff fallers.
The NMOC is the UK’s flagship centre within the network. Supported by ten coastguard operation centres across the country, it manages up-to-the-minute nationwide search and rescue capabilities.
The NMOC has been operational since September.