Duchess of Cornwall watches Indian army display on tour

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Camilla parker Bowles Duchess of Cornwall feeds a horse in India

The Duchess of Cornwall's tour of India at has seen her marvelling at a display of precision riding reminiscent of a bygone age when she visited an Indian military academy. Words and images: Press Association.

Racing across a field at a gallop, riders used lances, swords and bayonets to spear targets on the ground, to Camilla's delight.

The exhibition of horsemanship was made by trainee officers (known as gentlemen cadets) from the prestigious Indian Military Academy in Dehradun.

The Prince of Wales and Camilla toured the training centre, where future officers undergo rigorous schooling to prepare them for life in the forces.

Founded in 1932 it is the equivalent of the UK's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, with around 1,700 cadets being trained at any one time at the base, set in acres of manicured grounds.

The duchess was impressed by Anant Rajpurohid, 21, who showed off his riding skills in an activity called tent pegging.

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He used a lance to spear a foam target, then dropped it to grab a sword stuck in the ground which he used to stab another peg before picking up a bayonet to hit a final target.

At the end of the display Camilla asked him: "How long did it take you to learn that? You're a natural."

The duchess, who wore a knitted poppy on the shoulder of her outfit, also saw displays of show jumping and polo, but when she met some of the academy's many horses she had a sweet treat in store for them, giving the animals large brown lumps of sugar cane as she talked to their riders.

The duchess handed out the lumps from a tray carried by one of the military staff.

In another part of the training centre Prince Charles was shown some of the Indian army's most unusual recruits - mules - and latest techniques in warfare.

The commandant of the academy, Lieutenant General Manvender Singh, told the prince that mules are still used in hilly areas, where they carry up to 70kg.

An instructor added: "We have our borders with the Himalayas, where there are no roads. The mules carry everything - fuel, ammunition, rations - and take it to the furthermost outposts."

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In a building designed to simulate fighting in built-up areas, the prince watched a cadet go from room to room firing at moving targets - once with blank ammunition as the prince followed behind, and then with live ammunition as Charles watched from the safety of the control room.

Inspecting the troops, he met a number of foreign recruits including some from Afghanistan. "They are very good at boxing," said the commandant.

Charles might have revealed something of his own experience of military training when he asked some cadets: "Do you do military history?" he asked.

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