Prince Harry’s return from Afghanistan is imminent. Within a couple of weeks, the British Army’s most highly visible Apache pilot should be safely back on UK soil. After such an action-packed 2012, what can royal watchers expect from him in 2013?
Unlike William, Harry is not at a crossroads being forced to pick full-time royal duties over his military career. It’s not even been a year since he graduated as a fully-operational pilot so we can expect Captain Wales to be putting in more time with the army. Another Afghanistan deployment seems unlikely. With forces currently set for departure in 2014 there isn’t much time for additional tours left. And whether he likes it or not, Harry’s deployment causes a set of issues not experienced by other soldiers. I would be quite surprised if he returned to the front lines there.
This doesn’t mean there isn’t the possibility for further combat action. If Apache regiments were deployed to other areas of conflict, there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t go as well. As suggested by the press this year, if Britain became involved in the Syrian conflicts Apaches being used to provide ground cover would be an option. Rest easy, though. It’s been said that the pilot’s seat of an Apache is one of the safest places to be on the front lines.
Near the end of 2011, training in Kenya was mentioned but since he completed his training this past February, that also seems unlikely. He could find himself in Kenya near the end of 2013 to open Laikipia Air Base. This would be a royal duty on behalf of the Queen and not part of his job duties.
I believe his future army role might lie as an Apache trainer. (But I doubt in California as bandied about in the papers. Sorry, American cocktail waitresses.) Bottom line, involvement in further conflicts is not out of the question but I don’t think we’ll see him in Afghanistan again.
As third (and soon to be in fourth) in line and still an active duty officer, he’ll probably end 2013 at the bottom of the number of engagements list as he did this year. Sending him on a diplomatic tour of China has supposedly been proposed. If not such a large and historic royal tour as China, another jaunt abroad representing HM is a definitely a possibility. It would be a great coup for his reputation and, based on the bang up job he did in the Caribbean, would be great for the country. Despite any bumps he had personally last year, he remains quite a popular royal.
One of his favorite charities, Walking With the Wounded, is making a South Pole trek this year. This is definitely up his alley and would complement his 2011 North Pole trip with WWTW nicely. He’s mentioned a wish to expand Sentebale’s work benefitting disadvantaged children beyond Lesotho so I expect we’ll see more there. Last year also saw him taking on more patronages including the London Marathon, Rugby for Heroes, School Games and, along with the Cambridges, Forces in Mind Trust. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become an ambassador for Team GB in future Olympics games. After all, he really charmed Brazil last March. Charity work could be his most highly visible role this year.
You might think Harry would try to put his “Party Prince” side on ice after last summer’s Vegas debacle. But despite what he might say, I don’t think he’s prepared to completely stay out of Mayfair’s nightclubs. Remember that just weeks before hitting Sin City he told some Olympic athletes he was too old to go out anymore. Sure, Harry. Besides, there are a couple of clubs that opened while he was gone which he’ll want to hit: Bodo Schloss, partly owned by childhood friend Tom Van Straunzebee and Tonteria, one of Guy Pelly’s new ventures. I’m sure they have tables already waiting for him.
Romance-wise, Harry watchers are waiting to see if the tabloid stories have been true about Cressida Bonas. If she is his new squeeze I don’t expect we’ll be given any confirmation anytime soon. He doesn’t seem in a rush to publicly change his relationship status and we’re probably a few years off from another big royal wedding.
As for what I want to see, I’m begging the gods of white pants and riding boots for more polo this year. 2012 was woefully lacking in pony action. Harry, please make this happen.