Princes William and Harry have spoken of their sadness over the death of a Birmingham soldier in Afghanistan.
Trooper James Munday, of Coleshill, who was hailed by his commanding officer as “one of the best of his generation”, died on Wednesday after a blast during a routine patrol in Helmand Province.
Trooper Munday was killed in “especially tragic” circumstances, shortly before the end of his tour of duty, fellow officers said.
The 21-year-old was serving with D Squadron of The Household Cavalry - the same regiment as Prince Harry.
Clarence House said the princes were “deeply saddened” while Trooper Munday’s family spoke of their devastation at his death.
Prince William, who served alongside Trooper Munday in D Squadron of The Household Cavalry, remembered him as an “exceptional soldier”, his spokesman said.
A Clarence House spokesman said: “Prince William and Prince Harry are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news. Together with the rest of their regiment, the two princes’ heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this most distressing of times. Trooper Munday was in D Squadron with Prince William, and he remembers him as an exceptional soldier.”
In a statement released through the MoD, Trooper Munday’s parents, Robert and Caroline Munday, said: “James was an adventurous, gracious and caring son, who excelled as a soldier and died doing a job he loved.
“James was a tremendous character, who lived life to the full. He was a talented and fearless skier, an enthusiastic horseman and was relishing the opportunity to help those in need on operational service.
“We are devastated by the loss of James, who will be sorely missed by his family, numerous friends and colleagues. We are so proud of what he achieved as our son and have been humbled by the many messages of condolences received.”
The officer was hailed by other former colleagues as an exceptional talent. Lieutenant Colonel Harry Fullerton, his commanding officer, said: “Trooper James Munday was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best of his generation. He was a rising star in his peer group and a truly brilliant Life Guard and household cavalryman.”
The keen sportsman, known to his colleagues as “Magpie”, died at the scene after the Jackal off-road vehicle he was driving exploded, the MoD said.
Two other soldiers were also injured in the blast, which brought the number of British service personnel killed in the country since operations began to 121.
Lt Col Fullerton said: “He excelled at all he turned his hand to.“He served on this tour with courage, honour, humility and always put his colleagues’ interest first.
“His family have lost a wonderful son and we at the regiment have lost one of the best.”
Since training at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in Knightsbridge, he was marked out as a talented jockey and expert downhill skier.
Trooper Munday, a rugby fan, served in Afghanistan after joining the Household Cavalry Regiment, based at Windsor, last year.
Lt Colonel Alan Richmond, commanding officer of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (Battlegroup South), said: “James Munday was a superb soldier, full of character and a highly popular member of his squadron.
“He had a great sense of humour, was a gifted sportsman and lived life to the full. It is especially tragic that he should be taken from us so close to the end of his tour of duty.”
Captain Tom Long, of The Life Guards, D Squadron Operations Officer, described him as “natural athlete” with an “infectious” enthusiasm.
He said: “’Magpie’ was a bright, motivated soldier who had a very promising career ahead of him.”
A Solihull soldier has been honoured at Buckingham Palace for his service and bravery in Afghanistan.
Captain Paul Britton, aged 28, received the Military Cross from Prince Charles in the ceremony. Capt Britton and his team were ambushed by the Taliban north west of Sangin in November last year and his hand and shoulder were injured by shrapnel.
Others were also injured and Capt Britton, the fire support team commander, refused morphine so he could continue his job while they were rescued by helicopter.
“Thank God all the guys that were injured that day survived,” he said. “Potentially there could have been some people killed if we hadn’t got them out.”
Capt Britton, of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, spent about two weeks in Camp Bastion hospital before returning to duty.