Prince Harry In Afghanistan: Royal Has Always Loved The Army

Royal Has Always Loved The Army

Prince Harry's love of the Army began when he was just a boy and his determination to carve out a life in the forces has been evident ever since.

As a delighted eight-year-old, he dressed up in a miniature combat suit and green Light Dragoons helmet and proudly sat in a tank during a visit to the regiment in Hanover, Germany, with his mother in 1993.

His childhood bedroom was filled with pictures of tanks and helicopters, and his love of the military way of life gained strength as he set his sights on being a career soldier.

Prince Harry: Living the dream

Diana, Princess of Wales, always believed her youngest son had a future in the military.

His enthusiasm and resolve to succeed as a member of the armed forces was highlighted when details of his Apache training were unveiled in 2010.

Harry declared at the time: "I am very determined, though, as I do not want to let down people who have shown faith in my ability to fly this aircraft on operations.

"It is a seriously daunting prospect but I can't wait."

The Prince, who left Eton with a Grade B for art and D for geography in his A-levels, rose quickly through the ranks of the school's cadet corps and led the annual parade at the Eton Tattoo, shouting orders for the guard of honour.

The Prince was intent on joining the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Surrey, where he wanted to train as an Army officer.

To be able to apply, first he had to pass his Pre-Regular Commissions Board (RCB) test, which he did with flying colours, achieving a category 1 pass.

He had been intending to wait until September 2005 to apply to Sandhurst but his advisers decided he was mature enough to take on the challenge a year early.

In September 2004, he was accepted into the academy after passing the main RCB assessment, having faced an assault course, physical tests, a planning exercise and interviews.

He was known as Officer Cadet Wales and began his 44 weeks of training at the prestigious college in Camberley, Surrey, in May 2005.

New recruits faced a tough five-week induction period.

"Once getting there, the first five weeks, the infamous first five weeks, it's a bit of a struggle but I got through it," he said at the time.

The Prince had clearly found his vocation and admitted he would have been bored by a regular office job.

"I do enjoy running down a ditch full of mud, firing bullets, it's the way I am. I love it," he said.

On April 12 2006, Harry was commissioned as an Army officer, marching in front of the Queen during Sandhurst's passing-out parade.

The Prince became a Cornet in the Blues and Royals, joining the Household Cavalry regiment.

In May 2006, he began training to become a troop leader of an armoured reconnaissance unit. He spent four-and-a-half months learning how to be a recce soldier at Camp Bovington in Dorset.

In February 2007, the Ministry of Defence confirmed the Prince would be heading to Iraq on a six-month deployment, making him the first royal in 25 years to serve in a conflict zone.

Yet three months later, just before Harry was due to leave, he was pulled out of the tour of duty.

Insurgents, intelligence revealed, were specifically planning to target him and it was too dangerous to allow him to go.

Devastated and angry, Harry stayed behind in the UK while the men he was due to lead flew out to the stricken region.

He considered quitting but the hope of going to Afghanistan in the future kept him in the Army.

In late 2007, he got his wish and undertook a 10-week tour of duty fighting the Taliban in the dangerous Helmand province, operating as a battlefield air controller behind enemy lines.

The secret mission - which ended early after it was leaked on the internet - gave Harry the opportunity to be treated as a real soldier, rather than a Prince.

He returned dubbed the "Warrior Prince", "Harry the Brave" and "One of Our Boys" by the press for fighting for his country.

Harry was promoted from second lieutenant to lieutenant in April 2008 and in January 2009 began a two-and-a-half year training course to become a fully operational, full-time Army Air Corps helicopter pilot.

He remained an officer in the Household Cavalry during the training period.

On successful completion of that army pilots course, he was selected to train on the Apache attack helicopter.

In April last year, he was promoted to the rank of captain in recognition of time served in the armed forces.

In February 2012, he became a a fully operational Apache helicopter pilot with the Army Air Corps after completing 18 months of intensive training.

This included a stint in California where the movie Top Gun was filmed.

He learned to fire the aircraft's lethal missiles, rocket and cannon, and fly it in combat for the first time in dusty conditions similar to Afghanistan.

Harry was presented with an award for the best co-pilot gunner.

He attained limited combat ready status and is on attachment to 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps within 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Before You Go