Harry treated to wedding photos and candles on solo Norway Valentine’s Day visit

The Duke of Sussex may have been many miles from the UK but two British servicemen on winter weather training in the Arctic Circle ensured the duchess was never far from Harry's mind on Valentine's Day.

A tiny makeshift igloo dug into the fresh Norwegian snow was just large enough to fit framed images from Harry and Meghan's wedding, while candles and soft music also welcomed the duke as he edged his way inside the Quincey Shelter to meet Lance Corporal Lee Lovack and air engineering technician Kevin Burns.

The royal, spending his first Valentine's Day as a married man with hundreds of British military personnel at the Bardufoss training base, laughed as he spotted the mementos.

"You weirdos," he joked.

"It's very kind of you to invite me into your private shrine or whatever you want to call it.

"And the music, is that part of it? Romantic isn't it."

Speaking afterwards, AET Burns, 36, from Inverness, said: "We took him (the duke) through the structure of the shelter, how it's made.

"He is used to the weather, I think, because he said about exercises he had been on, he looked around at the shelter with the pictures and candles and he said we were weirdos."

Harry spent three hours in the icy wilds of northern Norway, meeting hundreds of servicemen undergoing the gruelling Exercise Clockwork.

Duke of Sussex visits Exercise Clockwork
Duke of Sussex visits Exercise Clockwork

The duke, who is due to become a father for the first time when the Duchess of Sussex gives birth later this year, arrived by private plane with temperatures just below freezing – much milder than the minus 35C many can expect to experience at the Bardufoss air station, some 200 miles (322km) within the Arctic Circle.

Harry's visit marked the 50th anniversary of Commando Helicopter Force and Joint Helicopter Command deploying to Bardufoss, where military personnel are taught how to survive, operate and fight in the sub-zero conditions and gain experience of operating aircraft in severe cold weather and mountainous environments.

The duke, in his role as Captain General Royal Marines, also viewed an Apache AH1 helicopter similar to the one he used to pilot – an experience he said he missed.

Major Huw Raikes, of the Army Air Corp, 34, from London, said: "He misses flying the aircraft. He was reminiscing about his experiences, asking what life was like back in Suffolk (where the duke was once based) and reminiscing about a few people we know.

"I was suggesting he would be able to start it (the helicopter) up, it all comes back very quickly.

"He misses the aircraft, he misses the exercises he had while flying it.

"It was a fun period for him – he had a focus, a job and a role. He misses that brotherhood."

Harry talking to service personnel with an Apache helicopter in the background
Harry talking to service personnel with an Apache helicopter in the background

Harry cut a birthday cake marking the 50th anniversary with a sword, and thanked those present for their work.

He said: "It's really nice to see you all and know you're having a good time out here. I think most of you would be somewhere else, Salisbury Plain or somewhere miserable, this gives you an opportunity to get out there and use every single day as an experience."

The royal is expected to arrive back at Kensington Palace in time to spend Valentine's Day evening with his wife.

Warrant Officer 1st Class Adrian Shepherd, who has served with CHF for 27 years, said: "This is the first time His Royal Highness has visited Joint Helicopter Command since becoming Captain General and it is great that he is doing the visit while we're in Norway.

"He was able to get a good look at what we do and how we operate in these harsh conditions. He saw the amount of training that goes into it and why it is so important that we do this exercise every year.

"It is good for the people out here to see their hard work recognised during a significant year for the exercise."