Prince Harry wearing green beret 200219 CREDIT MOD_1.jpg
Prince Harry wearing the green beret in 2019 (Picture: MOD).
Prince Harry

Prince Harry: His military career and connections

Prince Harry wearing green beret 200219 CREDIT MOD_1.jpg
Prince Harry wearing the green beret in 2019 (Picture: MOD).

The Duke of Sussex has a close connection to the Armed Forces and the veteran community. 

Prince Harry served in the Army for 10 years, undertaking two tours of Afghanistan and rising to the rank of captain.

The Prince also founded the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans.

Prince Harry's military career

During Prince Harry's 10 years in the Army, he undertook two operational tours of duty in Afghanistan and qualified as an Apache Aircraft Commander.

He reportedly discloses in his autobiography, Spare, that he killed 25 people in his role as an Apache helicopter pilot during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Harry reveals that he flew six missions during his second tour of duty on the frontline which resulted in "the taking of human lives" of which he was neither proud nor ashamed.

Adding in his tell-all memoir that in the heat of combat, he did not think of the 25 as "people" but instead as "chess pieces" that had been taken off the board.

Prince Harry entered RMAS in May 2005 to begin 44 weeks of Officer Cadet training, this was after passing his Regular Commissions Board (RCB), the qualification necessary to train at Sandhurst, in September 2004.

In January 2006, Clarence House announced he was to join the Blues and Royals, after which he was commissioned as an Army officer on 12 April that year.

In 2007, the Prince was deployed to Afghanistan for 10 weeks, working as a forward air controller, co-ordinating airstrikes on Taliban positions.

However, his tour ended early following reports in the international media of his whereabouts.

Prince-Harry-arrives-in-Camp-Bastion-Afghanistan-to-begin-tour-of-duty-in-Apache-Squadron-CREDIT-Crown-Copyright.jpg
Prince Harry in the cockpit of an Apache attack helicopter at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan (Picture: Crown Copyright).

On 25 February 2008, it was made known Prince Harry had been serving with the Army in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, for more than two months.

He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant with the Household Cavalry on 13 April 2008.

The Duke of Sussex then retrained as an Apache pilot in the Army Air Corps and returned to Afghanistan in 2012 as a helicopter co-pilot and gunner.

His decision to leave the Army was confirmed in March 2015.

Prince Harry ended his military career at the rank of captain in June 2015, following a secondment to the Australian military.

General Sir Nicholas Carter, the then-Chief of the General Staff, said that Prince Harry had "achieved much in his 10 years as a soldier".

"He has been at the forefront throughout his service," he said.

Image ID DM0Y4W Prince Harry next to Apache at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan 07092012 CREDIT Alamy Stock Photo EXP 05012024.jpg
Prince Harry undertook two operational tours of duty in Afghanistan and qualified as an Apache Aircraft Commander (Picture: WENN / Alamy Stock Photo).

Former military titles and patronages

After the decision taken by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to stand down as senior members of the Royal Family, Prince Harry returned Royal patronages and honorary military appointments to the Queen.

In February 2021, it was confirmed Prince Harry had returned the following military appointments to the Queen:

  • Captain General Royal Marines
  • Honorary Air Commandant, RAF Honington
  • Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command

Prince Harry received promotions in all three services, in June 2018, becoming a major in the British Army, a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy, and a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force.

However, Harry has now lost the honorary Navy and RAF ranks.

The Duke of Sussex was appointed Captain General Royal Marines in December 2017, succeeding his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the role.

That role was also one of the three military appointments he returned to the Queen. 

The Invictus Games 

Prince Harry is also the founder of the Invictus Games – the competition for injured, sick and wounded Armed Forces personnel and veterans which he established in 2014.

It was also the setting for the Duke and Duchess' first public appearance together as a couple when they attended the 2017 competition in Toronto. The couple married the following year – on 19 May 2018.

Watch: Prince Harry during an Invictus Games event in Dusseldorf last year said veterans "truly seen and appreciated" at Invictus Games.

Harry continues in his role as patron of the Invictus Games Foundation.

He described the men and women of the Armed Forces as his personal "role models" during an Invictus Games event in Dusseldorf last year.

At the event, he said he has "long believed that the service community deserves to be cheered as much as the most popular professional football teams".