Prince Henry of Wales KCVO full name Henry Charles Albert David was born on 15 September 1984, familiarly known as Prince Harry, is the younger son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales. At the time of his birth, he was third in line of succession to the British throne, after his father and elder brother, but is currently fifth in line after his father, his elder brother, and his nephew and niece, George and Charlotte.
Harry was educated at schools in the United Kingdom and spent parts of his gap year in Australia and Lesotho. He then chose a military career and underwent officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was commissioned as a cornet (i.e. second lieutenant) into the Blues and Royals, serving temporarily with his brother, and completed his training as a troop leader.
In 2007 and 2008, he served for over ten weeks in Helmand, Afghanistan, but was pulled out after an Australian magazine revealed his presence there. He returned to Afghanistan for a 20-week deployment in 2012–13 with the Army Air Corps. He left the army in June 2015.
Harry launched the Invictus Games in 2014, and remains patron of its Foundation. He also gives patronage to several other organizations, including the HALO Trust, the London Marathon Charitable Trust, and Walking with the Wounded. He is engaged to marry the American actress Meghan Markle in May 2018.
Harry entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on 8 May 2005, where he was known as Officer Cadet Wales, and joined the Alamein Company. Within a year, in April 2006, Harry completed his officer training and was commissioned as a Cornet (second lieutenant) in the Blues and Royals, a regiment of the Household Cavalry in the British Army. He was given the service number 564673. On 13 April 2008, when he reached two years’ seniority, Harry was promoted to lieutenant.
In 2006 it was announced that Harry’s unit was scheduled to be deployed in Iraq the following year and a public debate ensued as to whether he should serve there. Defense Secretary John Reid said that he should be allowed to serve on the front line of battle zones. Harry agreed saying, “If they said ‘no, you can’t go front line’ then I wouldn’t drag my sorry ass through Sandhurst and I wouldn’t be where I am now”. The Ministry of Defense and Clarence House made a joint announcement on 22 February 2007 that Harry would be deployed with his regiment to Iraq, as part of the 1st Mechanized Brigade of the 3rd Mechanized Division – a move supported by Harry, who had stated that he would leave the army if he was told to remain in safety while his regiment went to war. He said: “There’s no way I’m going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my ass back home while my boys are out fighting for their country.” The head of the British army at the time, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said on 30 April 2007 that he had personally decided that Harry would serve with his unit in Iraq, and Harry was scheduled for deployment in May or June 2007, to patrol the Maysan Governorate. By 16 May, however, Dannatt announced that Harry would not serve in Iraq, concerns included Harry being a high-value target (as several threats by various groups had already been made against him) and the dangers the soldiers around him would face should any attempt be made on his life or if he was captured. Clarence House made public Harry’s disappointment with the decision, though he said he would abide by it.
It was reported in early June 2007 that Harry had arrived in Canada to train alongside soldiers of the Canadian Forces and British Army, at CFB Suffield, near Medicine Hat, Alberta. It was said that this was in preparation for a tour of duty in Afghanistan, where Canadian and British forces were participating in the NATO-led Afghan War. This was confirmed in February the following year, when the British Ministry of Defense revealed that Harry had been secretly deployed as a Forward Air Controller to Helmand Province in Afghanistan for the previous ten weeks. The revelation came after the media – notably, German newspaper Bald and Australian magazine New Idea – breached the blackout placed over the information by the Canadian and British authorities. It was later reported that, while in Afghanistan, Harry helped Gurkha troops repel an attack from Taliban insurgents, and performed patrol duty in hostile areas. His tour made Harry the first member of the Royal Family to serve in a war zone since his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew helicopters during the Falklands War. For his service, Harry was presented with an Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan by his aunt, Princess Anne, at the Comber mere Barracks in May 2008.
In October 2008, it was announced that Harry was to follow his brother, father and uncle in learning to fly military helicopters. After passing the initial aptitude test, he was to undertake a month-long course; if he passed that, he would begin full flight training in early 2009. Harry had to pass his flying assessment at the Army Air Corps Base (AAC), Middle Wallop, the result of which determined if he would continue on to train as a pilot of the Apache, Lynx, or Gazelle helicopter. Having reached the requisite standard, Harry attended the Defense Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury, where he joined brother William.
Harry was presented with his flying brevet (wings) by his father on 7 May 2010 at a ceremony at the Army Air Corps Base (AAC), Middle Wallop. Harry had let it be known that he intended to fly Apache attack helicopters if he was successful in passing the rigorous Apache training course, after which time it could be possible for him to see active military service once again on the frontline in Afghanistan. During the ceremony, he switched his Blues and Royals’ Officer’s Service Dress cap for that of the Army Air Corps’ sky blue beret with a Blues and Royals badge.
On 10 March 2011, it was revealed that Harry had passed his Apache flying test and he was awarded his Apache Flying Badge on 14 April 2011. There was speculation that he would return to Afghanistan before the withdrawal in 2015. On 16 April 2011, it was announced that Harry had been promoted to captain.