A dedicated soldier and keen sportsman, Harry’s reputation as an unrepentant tear-away prince was made with youthful antics that would be normal for most teenagers but gained massive coverage for a member of the Royal Family.
His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales is the second son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales. He is third in line to the British Throne after his father and his elder brother William. His full name is Henry Charles Albert David Wales, though in adult life he may take the family name Mountbatten-Windsor. Harry was christened on 31 December, 1984, at Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie. He has several godparents: his uncle, Prince Andrew, Duke of York; Lady Sarah Chatto; Lady Vestey; Mrs. William Bartholomew; Bryan Organ and Gerald Ward.
Harry’s boisterous nature was revealed early in his life, with the red-haired little boy displaying a roguish temperament. His parents were determined their boys would lead as normal a life as possible and Harry followed his older brother to Mrs Mynor’s Nursery School in Notting Hill Gate, West London and then to Wetherby School. He went to preparatory school at Ludgrove School in Wokingham.
In 1997, when Harry was just 12, he was staying at his grandmother the Queen’s Scottish estate Balmoral when his mother was killed in a car crash in Paris. Diana had been very close to her sons, involving them in her charity work and attempting to show them how the less-fortunate of the world lived. Her death affected the prince deeply and he was visibly distressed when the family emerged to view the massive collection of floral tributes and messages of sympathy mounted to the princess by the public. Harry walked with his father and brother in the funeral procession at his mother’s funeral and the sight of the young princes carrying themselves with dignity captured the approval and sympathy of the world. On Diana’s casket was a card from Harry made out to “Mummy”.
In 1998 Harry went to Eton College in Berkshire. At college he developed a keen love of sport and became particularly involved in polo, rugby, skiing and abseiling. It was while at college that Harry became embroiled in the first of several controversies. In 2002 it emerged that Harry had admitted smoking cannabis. He had been seen drinking at the Rattlebone Inn pub near his family’s estate at Highgrove, Gloucestershire and he had smoked cannabis at several of the after hours parties he hosted at the estate in the summer of 2001 when he was 16. The family did not deny the reports but stressed that Harry’s use was “experimental” and could not be described as “regular’’. A police investigation cleared Harry but his father Prince Charles spoke to his son about the dangers of drugs and sent him to a drug rehabilitation centre in south London, where he met recovering heroin and cocaine addicts.
Though not noted for his academic prowess Harry graduated Eton with two A-levels: a B in Art and a D in Geography, though this was not without controversy either. In 2004 a former art teacher at Eton, Sarah Forsythe, alleged during an employment dispute with the school that she had been asked by senior staff to help Harry cheat on his A Level work in 2003. She claimed that other staff prepared his written material and helped him insert it into his work. She also secretly taped a conversation with Harry where he said he wrote “like, a sentence in it”. Forsyth won her employment dispute but her claims about Harry were dismissed.
After leaving school Harry took a “gap year’’ and travelled throughout Africa and Australia. He worked at a Queensland ranching station as a jackeroo and followed the English rugby team in their successful World Cup challenge. In 2004, Harry went to Lesotho in southern Africa and volunteered at an AIDS orphanage. While there he made a documentary “The Forgotten Kingdom – Prince Harry in Lesotho’’ to highlight the plight of the orphans and together with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, he founded a charity called “Sentebale: The Princes’ Fund for Lesotho” in 2006.
Harry returned from Lesotho in July, 2004 to prepare for admission to The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst the following year. While preparing, Harry worked with the Rugby Football Union as an Assistant Rugby Development Officer, as well as on a farm to learn about land management. In 2004 Harry began dating Chelsy Davy, the daughter of a wealthy Zimbabwean family. The two were twice photographed holidaying in Argentina and Mozambique
In October 2004, only weeks after the allegations of Harry’s school cheating were made, Harry got into a 3am scuffle with a paparazzi photographer outside a London nightclub. Harry shoved the photographer’s camera into the man’s face and cut his lip. He was restrained by his bodyguard and bouncers from the club.
A few months later, in early 2005, Harry landed himself in hot water again by wearing a Nazi uniform to a friend’s “Colonials and Natives’’ fancy-dress party. A picture of a drunk Harry sporting a swastika armband was splashed across the front page of The Sun newspaper and an international outcry ensued, particularly as it was only weeks before Holocaust Memorial Day, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Harry was lambasted in the press, despite making an apology, with The Guardian saying Harry “seems less interested in preparing for a life of royal service than auditioning for the role of village idiot”.
In May 2005, Harry entered Sandhurst where he was known as Officer Cadet Wales. He graduated from the academy in April, 2006 and joined the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry as a troop commander. In February 2007 it was announced that Harry would be deployed on active service in Iraq with the prince saying, "There's no way I'm going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country." Despite Harry’s willingness to serve, the Army performed an about-face and did not let him go after they received specific threats against him that would have presented a danger to those around him.
He was to get his wish to take part in active service, although not in the conflict in Iraq. In June 2007, Prince Harry trained in Canada in preparation for a tour of duty of Afghanistan. He became the first member of the royal family to serve in a war zone since Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was involved in flying helicopters in the Falklands conflict. The Ministry of Defence confirmed that Harry had been sent to Afghanistan as a forward air controller to Helmand province. In May 2008, he received the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan, for his participation in the conflict.
Away from his military career, Harry was also keeping himself busy and in July 2007, he and his brother William held the star-studded ‘Concert for Diana’ to commemorate their mother on what would have been her 46th birthday. The event raised money for charities dear to her. Harry attended with girlfriend Chelsy, despite reports he had been living it up as a playboy with various women around the world. In November, 2007, it was reported that Chelsy, exasperated with Harry’s wild ways, had split up with him, though they were reported to have reconciled two weeks later.
Despite constant scrutiny in the media, Prince Harry remains unrepentant about his party-boy image. “I am who I am and I’m not going to change,” he told an interviewer. Newspaper editors world-wide hope he stays true to his word. Meanwhile, after several years, Prince Harry was successful in completing his military helicopter pilot training, and in May 2010, his father, Prince Charles, presented him with his flying wings at the Army Air Corps Base, in Middle Wallop. In March 2011, it was revealed that Harry had been successful in passing his Apache helicopter flying test.
Before embarking on his training, the prince had said: “It is a huge honour to have the chance to train on the Apache, which is an awesome helicopter. To be honest, I think it will be one of the biggest challenges in my life so far.”
In 2014, it was revealed that Harry would be taking up a staff role at the Ministry Of Defense, the position of SO3 (Defence Engagement) in HQ London District.