Prince Harry is the first to admit he is not the academic type.

Exams at school were a "nightmare" and he could have hit the books a lot harder during his 18-month flying course.

prince harry

Prince Harry says flying can be easier than walking

But that did not stop him from qualifying top of his class as an Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner (CPG).

His skill and flair for sports and computer games paved the way to becoming a top pilot and taking the controls in the cockpit came naturally, he said in Afghanistan.

"I don't know, I'm one of those people, that during my flying course especially, I would be fine at flying.

"I probably should have done a lot more reading, but I was fine at flying.

"And then every now and then a written test would come up, and I'd be absolutely useless and I've been like that from stage one of my youth."

At his posh and exclusive schools, Harry was far more comfortable on the sports pitches than in the classroom. In his spare time he became an accomplished skier, polo player and shooter.

He needed to repeat his final year at his prep school Ludgrove to gain a place at Eton College in 1998 and his GCSE results were not publicly released.

Claims that an art teacher helped him to cheat in his A-level coursework overshadowed his B grade for the subject and he was awarded a D in geography.

"Exams were always a nightmare, but anything like kicking a ball around or playing PlayStation - or flying - I do generally find a little bit easier than walking, sometimes," he said.

The royal began to show his military potential at Eton, where he rose through the ranks as a cadet. And after taking a gap year, he gained a place at Sandhurst officer training college, despite having not been to university.

Harry said being selected for the Apache co-pilot gunner course came as a welcome surprise because he lacked academic qualifications from higher education.

"I think back in - whenever it was, two years ago - when it was all decided, it was never expected.

"Because being a junior captain, or a lieutenant then that I was and a non-grad (non graduate), obviously not going to university, therefore the army presume you to be less intelligent, which is nice of them - probably true.

"But there were a couple of us that got pushed forward to the front seat instead of the back seat.

"It's a joy for me because I'm one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think that I'm probably quite useful.

"You can ask the guys, I thrash them at Fifa the whole time."

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As well as honing his computer gaming skills, the 28-year-old excelled throughout the 18 months of helicopter training in the UK and United States, eventually receiving a prize as the best CPG out of his class of more than 20.

Playing down his achievement, Harry said: "The only reason I won the award is because I was the only one who didn't slip up at some point.

"They had to give the award to someone."

He added: "I was one of the few that was left standing, so that's the only reason I got that award."

But Harry's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tom de la Rue, who has closely followed the prince's development, said he won the prize on merit.

"That was absolutely the right decision that was made, and he has been performing superbly out here."

Lt Col de la Rue, who was the Deputy Commander of the Joint Aviation Group in Afghanistan as well as the Commanding Officer of Harry’s 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, added: "He really is on top of his game.

"He's an excellent co-pilot gunner and I think he's very much enjoying being able to deliver support as has been directed of the Joint Aviation Group."

The other CPG on Harry's flight of two Apaches said the prince is reliable and sharp in the cockpit.

Captain Simon Beattie, who is also the operations officer of 662 Squadron, said: "He's good at what he does.

"I like to think I'm quite good at what I do as well and we work well together as a team.

"It's nice to have someone who you know you can rely on as well in the other aircraft.

"He's quick. He keeps me on my toes to make sure I stay ahead of the game as well."