The Duke of Cambridge arrived in Oman today hours after watching British troops and their Kuwaiti counterparts storm a building during a dramatic military exercise as his tour of the Middle East continued.
Prince William was greeted by a guard of honour as he stepped off a plane at Khasab Airport in Oman for the second leg of his four-day visit to pay tribute to the historic ties between Britain and the Middle East nations.
The 37-year-old spoke to dignitaries at the airport, which lies in a valley between two close mountain ridges, during his first official visit to the country at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The Duke of Cambridge (centre) arrives at Khasab Airport in Oman today, as part of his four-day tour of the Middle East
The 37-year-old royal spoke today to dignitaries at the airport, which lies in a valley between two close mountain ridges
Prince William was greeted by a guard of honour as he stepped off a plane at Khasab Airport in Oman today
Earlier today in Kuwait, William wore protective glasses and ear defenders to watch as soldiers threw grenades into a premises which echoed to the sound of gunfire, albeit blanks, as they ran inside to confront the enemy.
The Duke had a ringside seat for Exercise Desert Warrior – a type of exercise which would have been familiar to him, as he trained to be an Army officer at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Under the exercise, British troops train alongside Kuwaitis twice a year for four weeks, in a defence and security collaboration that can trace its origins back to the Treaty of Friendship signed between Kuwait and the UK in 1899.
Defence and security have formed the cornerstone of the UK-Kuwait relationship, particularly following Britain’s role in the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 after the Iraqi invasion.
Major Ben Smyth, commander of Malta Company, 2nd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment, hosted William’s visit to the Sheikh Salem Al-Ali National Guard Camp in northern Kuwait, close to the Iraqi border.
Prince William visits Exercise Desert Warrior, a joint British-Kuwaiti military exercise, at the Sheikh Salim Al-Ali National Guard Camp in Kuwait
William, 37, looked to be enjoying himself as he watched a demonstration of urban tactics and close-quarter battle techniques
The troops were taking part in Exercise Desert Warrior, a biannual training event which sees a company of UK troops train alongside Kuwaiti forces
As well as watching the joint military exercise, William was given a tour of the base by soldiers, who he spent time talking t
Maj Smyth, whose men are midway through the exercise, said: “As I explained to the duke, defence forms the cornerstone of the UK-Kuwaiti relationship and this is a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate the UK’s enduring commitment to Kuwait.
“I explained to him at a company level our key outcome was wanting to improve that relationship and particularly build relations at a personal level. Defence is a small place and you can bump into each other again and again.”
After the demonstration of urban warfare, William chatted to some of the UK and Kuwaiti troops involved in the exercise and, speaking through an interpreter, asked a Middle East soldier about the scorching summers they experience.
The duke said: “Ask him what it’s like training in the summer when it’s 50 degrees outside,” and the soldier made the royal laugh when he said: “You melt.”
William was also intrigued by the body sensors the soldiers wore known as tactical engagement simulation (TES) – an automatic umpire that vibrates if a virtual bullet whizzes by or if someone is hit.
The duke asked another soldier: “I never got to use TES, is it working quite well?” Before leaving, William received commemorative plaques to mark his visit and then headed off to Oman.
Prince William enters an observation building as Kuwaiti and British soldiers outside take part in the Exercise Desert Warrior
The Duke of Cambridge wears ear defenders at the Sheikh Salim Al-Ali National Guard Camp in Kuwait where he saw UK and Kuwaiti troops taking part in Exercise Desert Warrior
Defence and security have formed the cornerstone of the UK-Kuwait relationship and the Kuwait soldiers appeared delighted to chat with the Duke
The Duke had arrived in Kuwait on Sunday, discussing recycling with a group of pupils from the Qurtoba Secondary School for Girls, before sharing his love of Aston Villa with schoolboys.
William told the group of Kuwaiti schoolboys how he rushed to a screen on Sunday to see his football club take on Manchester United, holding them to a draw.
His sporting confession came during a visit to an educational cultural centre where he showed off his reactions – hitting lights to test his reflexes, and shooting hoops during a basketball event.
Before having a kickabout with the schoolboys, he asked: ‘Have you heard of a team called Aston Villa?’, and when they replied ‘no’ he joked ‘of course you’ve heard of a team called Aston Villa’.
‘They played yesterday against Manchester United – a two-all draw. I tried to watch it as soon as we landed I was as quick as we could,’ he added.
After the arrival ceremony at Kuwait International Airport on Sunday evening, the duke would have been able to watch the second half of the match which kicked off at 4.30pm in Manchester.
The Prince took time to speak to both British and Kuwaiti soldiers, before retreating to watch them carry out the military exercise
Prince William looks on from the window of a building as Kuwaiti and British soldiers outside take part in the Exercise Desert Warrior
The soldiers seemed eager to show the base off to William and explain how the biannual joint military exercise would work
A team of photographers and minders followed the Duke as he was shown around the Sheikh Salem Al Ali Alsabah camp in Subia outside Kuwait City
During his visit to the Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre, the duke, who stands 6ft 2ins tall, was left almost bent double when he took on the reaction challenge.
‘The lights are too low for a tall guy,’ he said as Bashar Huneidi, one of the Gulf’s few alpine skiers, told the royal how the reaction game worked.
Later he played an interactive game of basketball with the boys, where they had to throw the ball at a hoop whenever one, out of a group, lit up.
Earlier, the royal had met a group of pupils from the Qurtoba Secondary School for Girls who told the duke about their Trash to Treasure composting project.
William joked: ‘I go outside and throw it in’, adding with a laugh ‘am I doing it right?’ as one of the schoolgirls told him he had to layer his bin scraps to get the best results.
During his visit, he also revealed that his family recycles ‘as much as we can’ but he has concerns about what happens to their waste.
UK and Kuwaiti soldiers taking part in Exercise Desert Warrior await the arrival of the Duke of Cambridge at the Sheikh Salim Al-Ali National Guard Camp
A British soldier looks through the scope of a FN MAG machinegun, while taking part with Kuwaiti soldiers in the Exercise Desert Warrior
Kuwaiti and British soldiers take part in the Exercise Desert Warrior, attended by Prince William, who watched the action from a building
William’s comments came as he joined litter pickers on a beach in Kuwait, tackling the scourge of plastic pollution, and indulged in a spot of birdwatching.
Speaking during a visit to the windswept Jahra nature reserve near Kuwait City, where the volunteers were working, the duke told the young environmentalists: ‘Where does your recycling go? Out of town?’
William, who had just begun his four-day tour of the Middle East at the time, added: ‘We recycle as much as we can at home but I worry about the chain, what happens to it? We need joined-up thinking – it’s a joined-up effort.’
The royal spoke about his disgust at the use of plastics and described the material as the ‘enemy’.
He said: ‘We’ve made sure we are travelling here we only take our metal bottles with us. Lots of metal bottles.
‘I hate plastic bottles now and I look at them and I literally think it’s the enemy – you see a plastic bottle and I’m like ‘eugh!’ Horrible isn’t it?’