SHRIVENHAM was royally impressed yesterday when Prince Michael of Kent visited the Defence Academy to open a new centre.

The Defence Centre For Languages And Culture which teaches 40 different languages, moved to the main Defence Academy campus from its former site in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

The Queen’s cousin, who studied Russian at the former Defence School Of Languages, spent the morning touring the new centre and speaking with students.

He said: “It was a joy to be able to officially open the new Defence Centre for Languages and Culture.

“Languages have an enormous strategic importance and they help to build bridges and understanding between two peoples.”

After the formal opening ceremony, students learning a range of languages strategically important to the MOD met the prince and performed an number of demonstrations.

Petty Officer Fraser Downer, who is studying Spanish at the DCLC demonstrated his skills in a presentation before the prince.

He said: “I think it was fantastic the prince was here to officially open the new centre.

“He said I sounded fluent which, considering where I am in my studies and coming from him is quite something. “His words were very kind and it was a real honour to meet him.”

Lt Col Matt Sharp, the chief instructor at the new centre, was delighted the prince was able to open the DCLC.

He said: “We have a long record with the prince because he studied Russian as part of his military service where we were before and he comes back regularly for top ups, so it’s fantastic he came along to open the new centre.

“It’s great to now to be based here in Shrivenham because it adds context to what the students are learning and they can see the relevance and the importance of the skills.

“What’s new is that the centre now includes a cultural element which recognises that learning a language also involves understanding a culture which enhances skills in diplomacy.”

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