It’s always good to have your family’s backing on a new venture and Prince Harry is in no doubt this morning that his royal relations are well and truly behind his four week stint with the Australian Defence Force. The Queen has sent a letter to the country’s military thanking them for welcoming her grandson into their ranks.
The letter was handed over by the prince himself when he arrived in Canberra. The message delivered to Australia’s Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, made reference to past, present and future.
“I am delighted that the long and enduring association between the Australian and British armies will be joined by the military secondment of my grandson, Prince Harry,” the letter begins, and then adds: “Together, our armed forces share skills, resources and resolve in order to uphold and defend our common values.”
Prince Harry will spend four weeks with the Australian Army, during which time he will train with the country’s special forces as well as go on patrol with Aboriginal soldiers. His first duty was to lay a wreath at Australia’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Canberra.
While on attachment the prince will also travel to Turkey to join his father at commemorations there for the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Gallipoli campaign.
The Australian and New Zealand Defence Corps, known as the ANZACs, were heavily involved in the campaign to capture the Gallipoli peninsula – thousands of them were killed. ANZAC Day is marked every year on April 25th to remember this major loss of life for Australia and New Zealand.
Gallipoli was also in The Queen’s thoughts. Her letter went on: “In 2015, when together we commemorate the many sacrifices of our countrymen at Gallipoli a century ago, it is fitting that we can also reflect on the strength and persistence today of those common values and our professional military ties.”
The Queen’s letter ended with a reference to the name by which her grandson, currently fourth in line to the throne, is referred to in the Army, as well as an acknowledgement of a popular nickname for Australian soldiers.
“I know that Captain Wales will benefit greatly from spending time with the Australian Diggers and I thank you for welcoming him into your ranks. Elizabeth R.”
The prince was on great form as he arrived for his four week attachment. He was all smiles as he greeted officials waiting to meet him, and after laying his wreath he ventured out into the rain where he politely refused the offer of an umbrella and headed off to meet some of the crowds who had turned out to say hello. Prince Harry seemed exuberant during his walkabout and broke off several times to greet more wellwishers.
This four week attachment isn’t the first time that Harry has worked with the Austalian army – he served with its soldiers in Afghanistan and enjoyed a bit of friendly rivalry with some during his Walking for the Wounded trek to the South Pole at the end of 2013. However, this month long stint is a major turning point for the prince – soon after his return he will end his active military service following a ten year career.
As he begins this very important four week period of his life, he has the very public backing of The Queen for his latest endeavor.
photo credit: Prince Harry marks 70th anniversary of Monte Cassino battle via photopin (license)