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Former head of Royal Marines who carried Prince Philip’s coffin is found dead

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Circumstances into the death of Major General Matthew Holmes, 54, are being investigated, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said today. He was found dead on Saturday and colleagues since called the man “one of our most senior and highly decorated Royal Marines”.

Major General Holmes – who had served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan – was Commandant General Royal Marines from 2019 until April this year. Major Holmes, who was also awarded a CBE in 2019, helped carry the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin at Windsor Castle in April, reports Plymouth Live.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said he was “deeply saddened to hear about the tragic death” of his friend.

“We mourn the loss of one of our most senior and highly decorated Royal Marines; a devoted former Commandant General who had served the nation, the Royal Navy and his beloved Corps with distinction for 33 years,” he said today.

“Matt was also a dear friend to many, and a close friend of mine for over 20 years. He will be sorely missed by the Service and especially the Corps Family.

“But my thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy are with Matt’s family.

“Their loss is the greatest and most painful: we will be there for them now and always.”

Major Holmes, who completed an MA in Defence Studies at King’s College London, commanded 42 Commando from 2006 to 2008.

And he was appointed as a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership on operations in Afghanistan in 2007.  

Lieutenant General Rob Magowan, who succeeded Major General Holmes as head of the Royal Marines, said: “My heart goes out to him and his family.

“We will honour him and all those closest to him.”

He added: “It matters not that he was a general, but it does that he is a Royal Marine.

“I remember and celebrate him, alongside all those who he is with now. We are one family, together, just as we learned, and as we trained, alongside each other at the Commando Training Centre. Once a marine, always a marine.”

The MoD said its thoughts, sympathies and deepest heartfelt condolences were with family and friends of Major General Holmes.

A spokesman requested that their privacy is respected.

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