It was a royal welcome for the Princess Royal.

Princess Anne arrived at CFB Borden and was welcomed by the Royal Canadian Medical Service before she presented them with a very rare honour.

It was dangerous work that earned these men and women in uniform this special nod from their colonel-in-chief.

“I'm delighted to visit you at your home,” the Princess Royal said, “to recognize your success by presenting this royal banner to your home station. This banner is only the third presented to the Canadian Forces element since Confederation.”

The maroon-and-gold Princess Royal's Banner was presented to the troops for their service in Afghanistan.

“She is really keeping track of what we're doing and has a connection with us that is more than just a title,” says Deputy Surgeon General Col. Colin MacKay.

Princess Anne acknowledged the regiment's hard work and professionalism. They worked in the middle of the battlefield, helping their wounded comrades. They lost eight of their own in the process.

“Within the Canadian Forces, the medical service suffered the highest number of casualties and personnel killed in action after the Combat Arms,” Princess Anne said. “And many of our members continue to suffer mentally.”

The banner is a ‘gift’ for everything the medical men and women have done overseas. Their field hospital, operating under enemy fire, was at one time the busiest in any of the combat zones across Afghanistan and Iraq.

After the Princess Royal’s banner ceremony wrapped up, Her Royal Highness took a private tour of a medical tent, where she spoke with soldiers about what they have to deal with in the field.

Lt. Col. Dr. Paul Charlebois did four tours of duty in Afghanistan. He’s a physician and an internal care specialist.

“The work that we did in Kandahar at the Role 3 Multinational (Medical Unit) is a testament to how professional we are and what we are able to do as medical professionals of all stripes,” he said. “It makes me extremely proud to be recognized.”

His was a feeling echoed by many today as Princess Anne took her time and spoke to the troops.

“She asked a lot of questions, she was quite interested,” said Lt. Col. Richard Deschambault, the unit’s commanding officer. “It's just fantastic to have the chance to see that she understands what we go through and understands the importance of helping people out.”

Anyone who was lucky enough to exchange some words with Her Royal Highness over the last couple of days said she is very kind, very warm, and engaged when it comes to what her soldiers are doing.