ALL ABOUT HARRY: A Prince and a Soldier
By Dominique Jones
We all know Prince Harry as the beloved second son of the late Diana, Princess of Wales and Charles, Prince of Wales, father to Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, and of course, husband to Meghan Markle. What is lesser known about Harry or perhaps not discussed as much, is his extensive military career spanning from 2005 to 2015. Arguably the saddest part of the decision to step back as a senior working royal was Harry being stripped of his honorary military titles. Why one might ask? As anyone close to the Prince would tell you, Harry is very passionate about the military and particularly his service and devotion to servicemen and women. As a rite of passage for all royal men, military service is what Harry is especially proud of. His service was a chance to see the world as a normal person.
Harry’s military career began in May 2005 with training as a cadet officer in the Royal Military Academy. He was set to go to Iraq two years later in 2007 as a forward air controller however his plans were discovered which led to Al Qaeda issuing a statement threatening to kidnap or kill Prince Harry. Not wanting to put his fellow members in even more jeopardy, Harry reluctantly went along with the decision not to go. A year later, Harry received another chance to go to the “conflict zone”. After the royal family negotiated a media blackout (so the Taliban wouldn’t be alerted to Harry’s whereabouts), Harry was off to Afghanistan. While there, he was known as Second Lieutenant Wales and nicknamed “Widow Six Seven”.
Harry spent his time doing what the other soldiers were doing: patrolling and defending the camp from repeated attacks. After ten weeks of the fourteen-week tour, a tabloid leaked the story exposing Harry. He was swiftly removed from the zone. Completely crushed he would later get another chance this time in 2012 this time as a helicopter pilot with the 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps. Harry still a target this time by the Taliban, the base was regularly attacked. “Harry Operation” whose goal was to kill the prince made Harry aware of the risks, however, he wanted zero special treatment after all he was a trained soldier. Despite the risks, Harry loved his duties. The military offered him structure, camaraderie, and a sense of honor. He wasn’t HRH Prince Henry of Wales. He was Harry.
His military service also afforded him to see firsthand, the horrors of combat. This and a trip to the U.S. to see the Warrior Games inspired Harry to start the Invictus games in 2013 Invictus meaning unconquered are games that use the power of sport to help recovery, support, rehabilitation, and generate understanding and respect for wounded and sick servicemen and women. The first games were held in London in 2014; these games bring together contestants from all around the world to compete in events such as archery, wheelchair basketball, athletics, swimming, indoor rowing, and much more. Speaking at the games Harry said: “I joined the Army because, for a long time, I just wanted to be one of the guys. But what I learned through serving was that the extraordinary privileges of being a Prince gave me an extraordinary opportunity to help my military family. That’s why I had to create the Invictus Games – to build a platform for all those who have served to prove to the world what they have to offer.
Harry’s military service and establishing the wildly successful Invictus Games started Harry on his own path away from the usual “spare” destination of being the public whipping boy or girl (RIP Princess Margaret) meant to prop up the monarch. The days of being naughty, “dirty harry” trope being caught in Las Vegas hotels playing strip pool were over. Harry was a man. Much like his late mother, Harry is admired by many and is now seen as a compassionate, down to earth, caring man who really wants to make a difference. Now that’s a true prince charming.
For more information on the Invictus Games, please visit invictusgamesfoundation.org
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