HRH Princess Ann visited RAF Lyneham today to find out how the families of servicemen cope when overseas deployment splits them apart.

The royal guest spent the morning on the base, finding out what support is available for military families, before visiting Lyneham Primary School to find out how children are affected when one of their parents are in the armed forces.

RAF personnel and their families gathered at the Hive information service building to greet the princess at noon, before getting the chance to describe to her the invaluable support they receive from staff on the base while their partners serve in Afghanistan.

Mum-of-three Jenny Taylor said: "It was lovely that Princess Ann took the time to come here today to find out how families cope while their husbands or wives are away.

"My friend and I come to the Hive quite often because it is very convenient that the children can run around while we chat.

"It is a social gathering point and when you are on your own you find it hard to get out and it can be quite stressful.

"It helps the children because they can play with their friends and it stops them asking where daddy is.

"I do not have any family here so it helps to have somewhere I can meet friends and the children can play."

Mrs Taylor's husband Thurston is regularly deployed to Afghanistan, and only returned from his most recent visit on Friday.

He said it helps him relax knowing his wife and children Tilly, aged 21 months, Miles, aged three, and Angus, aged five, can get out of the house and receive the support they need while he is away from home.

"The Hive is the focal point of the community and it is nice to know they get a chance to socialise and meet people," he said.

"I know it is hard when I am away and this gives Jenny a point of contact if she has any worries."

Of the 2,300 military personnel based at RAF Lyneham, around 70 are deployed overseas at any one time.

Many of these have children who attend Lyneham Primary School, and Princess Ann spent the afternoon finding out how the pupils are affected by changes in their family life.

More than 300 children waved Union Flags outside the school as the princess arrived, and the school song was sung as she entered the building.

She then had the chance to drop into three Year 3 and 4 classrooms, where pupils in swan class were learning about change.

Teacher Sharon Smith said: "Being so close to a military base we are affected quite a lot.

"We had three new children at the beginning of the year, but during the year we expect to gain some and lose some.

"We have had a lot of dads being posted overseas and it is very important that we help the children to deal with change.

"The children are actually extremely resilient and used to having to start all over again - they are very open and confident and they learn how to make friends quickly.

"It is nice that Princess Ann chose to focus on the servicemen's families during this visit."

Headteacher Julie Carr ended the day by thanking HRH for visiting the school, and the children who took part in a special assembly.

She said: "This is a very, very special occasion for a member of the royal family to spent a good amount of time in our school.

"This showed a great deal of support for our families, and it will raise morale in the whole community.

"The plaque officially opening our new school has also been unveiled so this is a special day."