Ready to serve. Prince Harry has remained dedicated to the military following his retirement from the British Royal Army in 2015.
The Duke of Sussex is one of many members of the British royal family to serve their country throughout history. Harry was part of the armed forces for 10 years, while his older brother, Prince William, completed seven and half years. Their father, Prince Charles, was part of the Royal Air Force, while their grandfather Prince Philip served in the Royal Navy for nearly 14 years.
Harry’s service began in 2005, and one year later, he was supposed to go to Iraq to fight alongside his Blues and Royals comrades. However, the assignment was switched once news broke that the prince would be on the front lines — causing concern for his safety and that of his fellow brothers in arms.
“If they said, ‘No, you can’t go front line,’ then I wouldn’t drag my sorry arse through Sandhurst and I wouldn’t be where I am now,” Harry said during a TV interview in 2005 of his desire to be treated like any other soldier. “The last thing I want to do is have my soldiers away to Iraq or wherever like that and for me to be held back home.”
The youngest son of Charles and the late Princess Diana eventually went to battle in Afghanistan, making him the first royal since Prince Andrew to serve in a combat zone. Harry has spoken about his time in the military on many occasions, explaining how he felt like a regular guy when he was in uniform.
“My father’s always trying to remind me about who I am and stuff like that. But it’s very easy to forget about who I am when I am in the army,” Harry told the Guardian after his second tour in January 2013. “Everyone’s wearing the same uniform and doing the same kind of thing. I get on well with the lads and I enjoy my job. It really is as simple as that.”
The army captain later explained the horrors he’d seen at war, revealing how a decade of service had affected him.
“On my first tour to Afghanistan in 2007-8 and again more so on my second tour in 2012-13, I saw some horrendous things: the tragic injuries and deaths of local people from roadside bombs, some of whom were children; coalition forces lying on the battlefield; and the constant ferrying of injured personnel to the hospital in Camp Bastion,” he wrote in a letter published in The Times in August 2014. “Radioing in the details of their injury to the hospital (which sometimes included the phrase ‘Op vampire,’ when the casualty would need a lot of blood — it still sends shivers down my spine).”
Harry, who founded the Invictus Games as a bright spot for former soldiers before leaving the military, continued, “Or lying in bed late at night while our accommodation shook from the downforce of the Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters, was a constant reminder of what was happening all around. See it, smell it, hear it, feel it, there was no escaping it.”
Scroll down to relive Harry’s highs and lows during his military career: