07/03/2012 10:27 GMT | Updated 07/03/2012 12:39 GMT

Prince Harry's Jamaica Plans Change In Light Of Afghanistan Soldier 'Deaths'

Prince Harry showed off his prowess on the firing range today and proved he is a top marksman.

Harry, an Apache pilot, was named best gunner when he completed his helicopter training last month and lived up to the billing when he joined Jamaican troops on their base.

But the royal's visit to the headquarters of the Jamaican Defence Force in Kingston was overshadowed by the deaths of six British soldiers in Afghanistan.

After the prince, known as Captain Wales in the Army, was made aware of the deaths this morning, he took the decision to change his schedule and cancelled his part in an abseiling display.

The prince was said to be devastated at the news but there was no official comment from him.

A St James's Palace spokesman said: "Prince Harry does not wish to take part in a military activity which would be deemed peripheral to an Apache pilot, on this day when the focus for the British Army should be on its core professional roles and of looking after the bereaved of those tragically killed in Afghanistan."

The prince arrived at the Up Park Camp wearing combat fatigues and his pale blue Army Air Corps beret, and was met by the Chief of Defence Staff Major-General Anthony Anderson.

When he walked onto the firing range, a small depression with high banks on three sides, he said to the massed photographers: "Anyone with a camera want to stand at the other end?"

He donned protective kit - flak jacket, helmet, goggles, earplugs and elbow and knee pads - and watched for a few minutes as four soldiers fired at the targets about 30 metres away.

When it came to his turn he crouched behind a wooden barrier with holes cut into it, laying on his belly to fire before kneeling and finally standing.

Deafening cracks rang out and small plumes of dust went up behind the dark silhouette target - and he notched up a score of 39 out of 40.

He had seven shots in the maximum five-points zone, with one straying outside earning him four points.

Harry was then asked to perform a rapid firing task and aimed at a picture of an assailant armed with a gun and grouped his shots around the head and neck.

Corporal Gavin Anderson said: "He was excellent, he's a good shot because he's in the target area - he's on a par with the other guys who were shooting."

Earlier, he had watched troops abseiling down a new tower which he officially unveiled. He also took part in a "war simulator" as planned, but did so privately.

Harry also shared breakfast with the officers in their mess and, before sitting down to eat, met some of the troops informally.

Among their number was a former Sandhurst cadet, Lieutenant Kayon Mills, who trained alongside the prince in the same platoon.

The pair hugged each other in greeting and Harry asked him: "What have you been up to?"

Lieutenant Mills said: "After Sandhurst I came straight back here."

While touching Lieutanant Mills' left bicep, the royal asked: "Still working out?"

Harry turned to the officers around him and made them laugh when he said: "This guy used to be enormous, he used to work out so much." He puffed out his chest and stuck out his arms to illustrate his point.

The Jamaican officer said later: "I haven't seen him since 2006, it was great catching up.

"At Sandhurst he was one of the guys, hard-working, always giving 100 per cent, he knew when it was time to work and when it was time to celebrate."