After ten years of active service with the Armed Forces, Kensington Palace has confirmed that Prince Harry will leave operational service this summer.
His Royal Highness is to focus more of his time on charitable work, including a period of the summer in Africa with conservation experts.
The Prince will step down from his duties in June after spending almost a month in Australia. He will spend four weeks throughout April and May at army barracks in Darwin, Perth and Sydney whilst seconded to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
During his time with the ADF, he will be expected to learn about the operating environment within Australia and will take part in a range of training exercises, domestic deployments and other activities with various units in the Force.
During his attachment, Harry will also travel from Australia to Turkey to attend the Gallipoli commemorations alongside his father, Prince Charles, on the 24th and 25th April.
He will then follow in the footsteps of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in May by making an official royal tour to New Zealand; the Prince’s first visit to the country. Visiting at the invitation of the New Zealand Government, he will undertake the tour immediately after his time with the ADF.
The news comes days after a Service of Commemoration was held at St Paul’s Cathedral to mark the end of the 13-year campaign in Afghanistan. Led by The Queen, the service was attended by senior members of the Royal Family including Prince Harry, who has served twice in the region during his career.
After, what he calls, a “really tough decision”, Harry explained his reasoning to leave the Armed Forces in an open statement:
“After a decade of service, moving on from the Army has been a really tough decision. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the chance to do some very challenging jobs and have met many fantastic people in the process. From learning the hard way to stay onside with my Colour Sergeant at Sandhurst, to the incredible people I served with during two tours in Afghanistan – the experiences I have had over the last 10 years will stay with me for the rest of my life. For that I will always be hugely grateful.
“Inevitably most good things come to an end and I am at a crossroads in my military career. Luckily for me, I will continue to wear the uniform and mix with fellow servicemen and women for the rest of my life, helping where I can, and making sure the next few Invictus Games are as amazing as the last.
“I am considering the options for the future and I am really excited about the possibilities. Spending time with the Australian Defence Force will be incredible and I know I will learn a lot. I am also looking forward to coming back to London this summer to continue working at the Personal Recovery Unit.
“So while I am finishing one part of my life, I am getting straight into a new chapter. I am really looking forward to it.”
Following the completion of duties, Harry will spend his summer learning how local communities in sub-Saharan Africa are working to protect and conserve their natural resources and wildlife. He will spend a period of time working with conservation experts before returning to London.
Whilst he considers his future, he will return to work with the Ministry of Defence, although only in a voluntary capacity. The Prince will continue his work with injured service personnel and develop his knowledge of the entire recovery process.
Supporting Case Officers in the Ministry of Defence’s Recovery Capability Programme, he will be working with both those who are administering and receiving physical and mental care within the London District area.
Speaking of Harry’s service record, Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter thanked the Prince for his ten-year commitment:
“Captain Harry Wales, as he is known affectionately in the Army, has achieved much in his ten years as a soldier. He has been at the forefront throughout his service. He has insisted on being treated the same as his peers. His first deployment with his Regiment, The Household Cavalry, to Helmand in 2008 was as a Forward Air Controller.
“This was a job that demanded skill, judgment and professionalism. Qualities he showed still further when he decided to transfer to the Army Air Corps. This led to his second tour in Helmand as an Apache helicopter pilot, where once again he was at the forefront of the operation, selflessly supporting those on the ground.
“However, it is probably his work during the past two years, which has brought him the most pleasure and fulfilment – the highlight being the extraordinary Invictus Games last year. And I am very pleased that his first taste of civilian life later this year will involve a new role in support of our injured servicemen and women. He has raised their profile through the care he has shown them and they admire him hugely.
“In the meantime he is deploying to Australia to spend time on exchange with the Australian Army. These are important programmes with our allies and partners, which help build understanding and knowledge of each other’s capabilities, and further strengthen the close bonds between our armies.
“We wish him the very best for the future, we thank him for his service, and we look forward to his continuing involvement with his regiments and with our wounded.”
A Decade of Service: Prince Harry’s career in the Armed Forces
- May 2005 – Prince Harry enters military service at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as Officer Cadet Wales
- April 2006 – Commissioned into Blues and Royals, second-most senior regiment in the British Army, as an Army Officer
- Late 2007 / Early 2008 – Secretly deployed to Afghanistan as a Forward Air Controller. Tour makes Prince Harry first member of Royal Family to serve in a war zone since 1982 when The Duke of York served in the Falklands
- April 2008 – Promoted to Lieutenant in the Blues and Royals
- May 2008 – Receives Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan from The Princess Royal
- January 2009 – Begins training as an Army Air Corps Pilot and selected to train as an Apache Attack Helicopter Pilot
- May 2010 – Receives his ‘wings’ from his father, The Prince of Wales
- July 2010 – Begins 18-month Apache training course and is awarded prize for best Co-Pilot Gunner during course
- April 2011 – Promoted to Captain in the Blues and Royals
- February 2012 – Becomes fully operational Apache Pilot
- September 2012 – January 2013 – Deployed for second tour of Afghanistan as part of 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment, Army Air Corps
- July 2013 – Qualifies as Apache Aircraft Commander
- January 2014 – Transfers to Staff Officer role in HQ London District
- March 2014 – Launches Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style sporting event for injured service personnel
- January 2015 – Begins work with Ministry of Defence’s Recovery Capability Programme
- April – May 2015 – Seconded to Australian Defence Force
- June 2015 – Leaves the Armed Forces
As the Prince prepares to move ‘down under’ temporarily, the Chief of the Australian Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin spoke of the opportunities that Harry’s attachment to the Force will afford him:
“We have prepared a challenging program that will see Captain Wales deploy on urban and field training exercises, domestic deployments, as well as participate in Indigenous engagement activities. The attachment will also provide Captain Wales with an opportunity to gain greater insight into our Army’s domestic operating environment and capabilities.
While all our units are highly capable, we have selected those units that best utilise Captain Wales’ skill sets and give him some experience of the diverse range of capability we have within the ADF. Importantly, we are pleased that Captain Wales will be able to see first hand the work the ADF is doing to support wounded, injured and ill members.
The British and Australian armies have a shared military history as well as a long and enduring association. Secondments, exchanges, bilateral training and professional development opportunities between our two armies are routine practice. Captain Wales’ embed with the Australian Army is an extension of his regular British Army duties. It will build on his previous experience with coalition forces along with his advocacy work with wounded, injured and ill service personnel
It is also an opportunity for Australian Army personnel to learn from their British counterpart and I know our Diggers will welcome Captain Wales into the ranks when he arrives in Australia next month”
More details are expected to be announced in due course.
Photo Credits: Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General, DVIDSHUB, CC and Wiki, CC