By Will McManus (from this is Hampshire.net)
THE Queen arrived by helicopter to present leeks to soldiers of the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Regiment to celebrate St David's Day last week.
The Queen, Colonel in Chief of the regiment, attended a parade at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth before a being shown new single-soldier accommodation and meeting the wives and families.
It was The Queen's first visit to the regiment, which was formed when the Royal Welch Fusiliers (23rd Foot) and the Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot) merged exactly a year before.
Following tradition, soldiers from the battalion were woken with gunfire' - tea laced with rum - served by officers.
The youngest members of each company then took part in a leek-eating competition and drank a toast to A Dewi Sant' - Welsh for St David.
They then assembled on the parade square, braced the stiff breeze and awaited the arrival of Her Majesty.
Dressed in a hot pink coat with a matching pink and fuchsia hat, The Queen handed out leeks to the officers and warrant officers before inspecting the parade.
The 2nd Battalion is set to deploy to Basra in southern Iraq in May, it was announced last month - for many of the soldiers it will be their third tour in Iraq.
The 1st Battalion, currently stationed in Cyprus, will go to Iraq and Afghanistan, while Territorial Army soldiers from the 3rd Battalion will support the Iraq tour.
In a short speech to the soldiers, the Queen said: "I have observed with pride that the new regiment has picked up the torch which its forebears have passed on.
"I shall follow your progress with the closest interest and my thoughts and prayers go with you as you face the challenges ahead."