Britain's Prince Edward visits Agile Task Force Estonia

Britain's Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (at right) chatting to NCOs from 2nd Battalion The Rifles, at Tapa base.
Britain's Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (at right) chatting to NCOs from 2nd Battalion The Rifles, at Tapa base. Source: Social Media

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex was in Estonia last week, visiting a British Army Battalion based at Tapa with the Agile Task Force, days before Britain's defense secretary announced a 'huge' hike in defense spending.

Prince Edward is Royal Colonel of 2nd Battalion The Rifles, who have been in Estonia since summer.

Colonel Dai Bevan, commander of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup, also based at Tapa, tweeted that it had been: "Fantastic to welcome HRH The Earl of Wessex to Estonia yesterday to visit the British Agile Task Force. The visit as Royal Colonel 2nd Battalion The Rifles enabled HRH to see the brilliant work being done by UK soldiers in the Baltics."

Prince Edward, who visited Tallinn in autumn 2018 to open an exhibit at the Seaplane Harbor Museum, is the youngest sibling of King Charles III, who was proclaimed monarch earlier this month after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

He also last week visited British troops based in Germany.

2nd Battalion The Rifles currently constitute the second battlegroup deployed to Estonia, following the near-tripling in size of military personnel the UK has been sending to Estonia since the Russian invasion of Ukraine starting February 24 and the ensuing, worsening security situation.

The eFP has been in place over five years, and is also British-led, with regular contributions from Denmark and France.

Lead regiment The Royal Welsh last week finished their rotation and handed over to the King's Royal Hussars (KRH), an armored regiment who had already contributed to the eFP composition in recent years.

Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace recently said that that country aims to boost its armed forces spending by: "At least £52 billion" (c. €58.4 billion) directly as a result of Russia's aggression in Ukraine, reversing a trend towards defense cuts in recent decades.

Wallace said: "My department has been so used to 30 or 40 years of defending against cuts or reconciling cuts with modern fighting, they're going to have to get used to a completely different culture, which is we are actually going to grow, we're going to actually change."

Wallace, who visited Estonia in an official capacity in March, referred to these cuts as a "corporate raid" and revealed he backed new Prime Minister Liz Truss both in relation to her pledge to raise defense spending by 3 percent and in direct contrast to the runner-up in the recent leadership contest in the UK, Rishi Sunak, who had not taken up requests Wallace had placed in a 2021 review of UK defense and security.

Britain's defense budget may be as high as £100 billion (c. €112.1 billion) per year by 2030.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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