LGBTQ

When Prince Harry Stepped In To Prevent Gay Soldier Being Abused

James Wharton said the soldiers left him alone after the Duke of Sussex "told them off".

A former British soldier, who was the first openly gay serviceman to feature on the front of 'Soldier' magazine, has told Forces News how Prince Harry stepped in to protect him from other soldiers.

James Wharton said the Duke of Sussex, who was his tank commander in 2008, was "quite offended" by the incident and "told them off". 

"I'd got myself into a bit of a situation with some soldiers from another regiment and, essentially, they didn't like the fact I was gay," Mr Wharton recalled.

"They were sort-of chest poking me and making me feel quite uncomfortable.

"I got into my tank where Prince Harry was doing something, and he could see that I was clearly affected by something and he asked me what the problem was.

"I told him that there were a couple of soldiers outside who weren't very happy with the fact I was gay.

"Quite offended that his gunner was being picked on by these people, Prince Harry went out and saw these soldiers and spoke to them, and the problem went away.

"He told them off and they left me alone."

Prince Harry during Spartan armoured vehicle training at Bovington
Prince Harry during Spartan armoured vehicle training in 2006

Mr Wharton served alongside the Duke of Sussex in the Household Cavalry, describing him as a "good" officer who was "well-liked".

"He knew how to do his job, he was skilled, he took the time to know his people, he wasn't afraid to get himself involved with things that were going on," Mr Wharton said.

"I seem to remember one of the nights when we were in Canada and it was one of the boys' birthday and we all went out to have a steak dinner and a lot of beer.

"Prince Harry came with us and put himself in the middle of that situation - it was natural as well, it didn't seem to be a forced thing.

"It wasn't uncomfortable, we weren't being careful with what we said... he was just able to embed himself into our community because he was one of us."

The Duke and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, have now announced plans to "step back" as senior members of the Royal family.

The couple said they will look to become "financially independent" and will split their time between the UK and North America.

Prince Harry in a spartan armoured vehicle in Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan, January 2008 (Picture: PA)
Prince Harry with the British Army in 2008.

Mr Wharton said he "wasn't surprised" by the news and believes the Duke will find success in whatever his next steps are.

"He's a very smart, intelligent man," Mr Wharton said.

"He's got a family to look after, I know that he's protective of people he cares about, so I think he will be okay.

"I have no doubt that whatever he goes off to do, whether it be or public or private, he will be successful." 

Prince Harry served in the Army for ten years, rising to the rank of captain and taking part in two tours of Afghanistan.