Royal followers cannot doubt that 2014 has been a significant twelve months for Prince Harry. Harry has continued to increase his Royal duties this year, taking on a number of engagements on behalf of his grandmother, The Queen, and demonstrating his ability and dedication as a full-time Royal. One might think that Harry could not top last year, which ended with him walking to the South Pole with the Walking With The Wounded team in December 2013. However, 2014 has been shown to be even more significant for the 30 year-old Prince. Let’s take a look back at the past months and reminisce over the work Prince Harry has successfully displayed.
Arguably the most significant event that dominated Harry’s 2014 was the creation of the Invictus Games. In March The Prince announced the launch of the Paralympic-style sporting championship for injured service men and women after he had witnessed and been impressed by the Warrior Games in the United States. Speaking about the importance of bringing the Games to Britain Harry said: “I am extremely proud to be bringing an event like this to the UK for the first time and believe it can have a long-lasting impact on the well-being of those who have served their nations so bravely.”
To coincide with the tickets for the Games going on sale, this year Harry became another member of the Royal Family to embrace social networking and made his first tweet. During his visit to London’s BT Tower, Harry tweeted from the Invictus Games twitter account, writing: “Hope everyone will get behind #invictusgames. Great opportunity to support and thank the men and women who have given so much. Harry.”
As ever, Harry has shown his dedication to both British soldiers and foreign troops this year. During his visit to Estonia in May, he paid tribute to Estonian defence forces who have served alongside British soldiers in Afghanistan. Harry laid a wreath at Freedom Square, with a handwritten note stating ‘In memory of all those who gave their lives for their country’, recognising the sacrifice fallen Estonian soldiers have made.
In the same month, Harry took a short tour of Italy. It was here that he commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino and attended a series of remembrance services to mark the Allied victory. Harry continued to show his sincerity and compassion during these tours, finding the time to speak to as many people as possible who had been involved in the battle, or to those who could recall the stories of those who had been there.
The foreign tours did not stop there for The Prince this year. In June Harry travelled to South America for a successful tour of Brazil and Chile. It was here that Harry showed to the world just how natural he is with children. During his time there, he visited a hospital where he met with patients who were undergoing rehabilitation for neurological and orthopaedic problems.
When visiting the charity Association for Support of Children at Risk (ACER) in Brazil, Prince Harry became ‘overwhelmed‘ after hearing some of the stories of unprivileged children in Diadema. Speaking about the visit, Harry said: “I was completely overwhelmed and shocked. I’ve never blubbed in public as far as I can remember but I was pretty damn close. It was amazing to hear those stories”.
The Prince even made a reference to his mother’s passing after meeting two young girls after the death of their mother. He said: “There are two little girls – I’m quite emotional – just looking at them I wanted to talk about my own experiences…But there is no point because it is just so far removed. The bravery of them looking at me, smiling at me. I wanted to use my own experiences in a very small way to try to give them a bit of understanding about the fact that I see what you’re going through. But you hear the stories and think that’s nothing to what they have been through”.
This was clearly a sentimental trip for The Prince, who displayed great empathy and interest in the lives of the children and their families that he met.
On a somewhat difference note, Harry showed a different side to him when he fixed someone’s TV cable so they could watch the World Cup Chile vs Brazil game later that day! Who knew The Prince was a bit of a handyman?
Harry has continued to display his interest and commitment to British sport this year. In July, The Prince was joined by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to officially open the 101st Tour De France in Yorkshire, much to the anticipation and excitement of the vast crowds that gathered near the start-line. Whilst in Brazil in June, Harry made a visit to the Olympic base of Team GB for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and even played a game of football and basketball with some local children.
Most recently, Prince Harry showed his support at the Formula One World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he was one of the first people to congratulate Lewis Hamilton on becoming the fourth British man to ever win two Formula One World Championship titles! Speaking on the team radio, Harry said: “Lewis, well done for not making the British people sweat. You are an absolute legend! Well done, mate!”
Commemorations to mark the outbreak of the First World War have been a frequent occurrence on the schedules of the Royal Family this year, with Prince Harry playing a prominent role in such events. In August he visited the Tower of London with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to witness the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ poppy installation in the moat of the Tower. It was here that all three of the young royals planted their own poppy.
On 6th September, Harry attended the Field of Remembrance ceremony at Westminster Abbey. He joined the crowds for a two-minute silence and saluted for the sounding of The Last Post.
Whilst other members of the Royal Family attended ceremonies at The Cenotaph and Horse Guards Parade on Remembrance Sunday last month, Prince Harry made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan. Harry laid a wreath during the Remembrance ceremony at Kandahar Airfield which held a card stating: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. They will never be forgotten. Harry.” The Prince also read a passage from the Gospel of St John and paid his respects to those troops who have laid down their lives for others.
Harry knows all too well the sacrifice that his fellow comrades have made after touring Afghanistan twice in the past, in 2007-2008 and again in 2012-2013. In August, writing in The Sunday Times, The Prince revealed his experiences whilst on tour, including witnessing the horrific injuries some of his comrades sustained whilst in action. In one part, Harry wrote: “Loss of life is as tragic and devastating as it gets, but to see young lads- much younger than me, wrapped in plastic and missing limbs, with hundreds of tubes coming out of them, was something I never prepared myself for.” One can only assume that was personal experiences such as this that inspired The Prince to rally support and establish the Invictus Games.
The most prominent month of the year for Harry was September – not only did he turn 30 in this month, but it also marked the launch of the much-anticipated Invictus Games in London. Harry officially opened the Games on 10th September, and made a moving speech about the sacrifice and perseverance the injured servicemen and women who were involved have. Having waited months preparing for the event and speaking at first-hand with those involved, The Prince poignantly remarked: “ Your stories move, inspire and humble us. You prove that anything is possible, if you have the will.” (Read the full speech here.)
The Invictus Games were remarkably successful, and none were prouder of the participants than Prince Harry. The competitors, along with the support of the dedicated crowds, demonstrated just how possible it is for ex-servicemen and women to recover from injuries sustained during the line of duty. Harry’s continuous promotion of the Games throughout the year has helped to inspire our troops and members of the public, and promote the rehabilitation of servicemen and women across the world. It is unsurprising that after the remarkable success of the Games that it has been suggested that the Games may become an annual event – something we can only assume that Prince Harry would be incredibly proud and eager to be involved with again.
Since the end of the Invictus Games, those involved have continued to be recognised for their brilliant work. During The Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards, the British Invictus Warriors received a Special Recognition award for their participation in the Games.
In a video message, Harry spoke proudly about the 103 men and women from Britain who took part in the Games. He said: “To fight for your country takes courage but to move beyond life changing injuries takes an extraordinary level of grit and determination…I can only begin to imagine how challenging the journey of recovery is, but the admiration I have for these men and women is limitless…Using the power of sport to enhance recovery, the Invictus Games highlighted how those who have been wounded should be recognised for their achievements post-injury rather than being defined by any limitations of injury.”
Just last weekend, Harry had the opportunity to award 30 Invictus Games competitors with the Helen Rollason Award during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. The Prince revealed how he felt “like a proud dad” being able to present these worthy winners with such an award.
And, of course, the year could not be reflected on without mentioning The Prince’s birthday. To mark Harry’s 30th birthday, here at Royal Central we created a three part series to look back on The Prince’s past three decades and the events that have defined the events in his life so far. (Read the series here.) Alongside this, our Deputy Editor, Chloe, even featured on ITV’s documentary Harry At 30 in celebration of Harry’s birthday!
However, any celebrations cannot mask the ongoing work that The Prince continues to do. More recently, Harry began a campaign to support children in Lesotho who may feel ashamed of contracting HIV. To mark World AIDs Day, Harry started a campaign called #FeelNoShame through his charity Sentebale, where he encouraged people to reveal their secrets and promote the fact that people should not feel shame. When revealing his own secret, Harry said in a video that he gets “nervous, anxious walking into room of people and public speaking”.
Looking back on the past twelve months, Harry has certainly had a jam-packed schedule. However, this has not deterred him from organising and promoting the welfare of those organisations closest to his heart. As ever, he has shown his commitment to supporting his fellow servicemen and women, and has demonstrated the importance of remembering those troops who have fallen during times of war. Whilst turning 30 may be seen as a milestone for The Prince, one can only presume that his work and dedication to causes will continue furthermore next year.
Let’s wait and see what 2015 brings for Prince Harry…
Photo credits: © Crown Copyright 2014, @byEmilyAndrews – Royal Correspondent for The Sun, © 2014 Chloe Howard & Invictus Games 2014.