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Published: Tuesday 17th March 2015 by The News Editor
Prince Harry has spoken of how leaving the Armed Forces has been a “really tough decision” but that he is looking forward to the new chapter in his life.
Kensington Palace confirmed that the Prince will end his military service in June after a four week secondment to the Australian Defence Force in April and May.
Fourth in line to the throne Harry said his experience in the Army would stay with him for the rest of his life and that he considered himself “incredibly lucky” to have had the chance to carry out challenging roles.
He described how he found himself at a “crossroads” in his military career but insisted that he would always maintain his links with his fellow servicemen and women.
After his stint in Australia, which will see him spend time at Army barracks in Darwin, Perth and Sydney carrying out unit based activities, training exercises and domestic deployments, the Prince will undertake an official royal tour to New Zealand.
During his attachment in Australia, Harry will also join his father the Prince of Wales at the Gallipoli commemorations in Turkey on April 24 and 25.
When he leaves the Armed Forces in June, Harry will spend part of the summer in Africa – a continent he has a great affection for – carrying out voluntary work with field based conservation experts to learn how local communities in sub-Saharan Africa are working to protect and conserve natural resources and wildlife.
In the autumn, the Prince will volunteer with the Ministry of Defence’s Recovery Capability Programme supporting the rehabilitation of wounded, injured or sick service personnel where he has been working previously, while he considers what to do next.
Harry revealed that a decision on his long term employment prospects had been left open.
“I am considering the options for the future and I am really excited about the possibilities,” he said.
During his 10 year full time military career, Harry went on two tours of duty to Afghanistan and qualified as an Apache Aircraft Commander.
His decision to leave the Army was a surprise to many as the Prince is a passionate member of the forces who had always dreamt of being a career soldier even as a young boy.
In a statement released by Kensington Palace, Harry explained: “After a decade of service, moving on from the Army has been a really tough decision.
“I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the chance to do some very challenging jobs and have met many fantastic people in the process.
“From learning the hard way to stay onside with my Colour Sergeant at Sandhurst, to the incredible people I served with during two tours in Afghanistan – the experiences I have had over the last 10 years will stay with me for the rest of my life. For that I will always be hugely grateful.”
He added: “Inevitably most good things come to an end and I am at a crossroads in my military career. Luckily for me, I will continue to wear the uniform and mix with fellow servicemen and women for the rest of my life, helping where I can, and making sure the next few Invictus Games are as amazing as the last.
“I am considering the options for the future and I am really excited about the possibilities. Spending time with the Australian Defence Force will be incredible and I know I will learn a lot. I am also looking forward to coming back to London this summer to continue working at the Personal Recovery Unit.
“So while I am finishing one part of my life, I am getting straight into a new chapter. I am really looking forward to it.”
Kensington Palace said Harry would continue to support his grandmother the Queen through official duties, as well as carrying on with his charity work.
General Sir Nicholas Carter, Chief of the General Staff – the professional head of the Army – paid tribute to the Prince.
“Captain Harry Wales, as he is known affectionately in the Army, has achieved much in his ten years as a soldier,” he said.
“He has been at the forefront throughout his service. He has insisted on being treated the same as his peers.”
He praised his skill, judgment and professionalism in Afghanistan where as an Apache helicopter pilot he “selflessly” supported those on the ground.
General Sir Nicholas also commended Harry for his role setting up the Invictus Games.
“It is probably his work during the past two years, which has brought him the most pleasure and fulfilment – the highlight being the extraordinary Invictus Games last year,” the Army chief said.
“And I am very pleased that his first taste of civilian life later this year will involve a new role in support of our injured servicemen and women. He has raised their profile through the care he has shown them and they admire him hugely.”
Chief of the Australian Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin said ahead of Harry’s Australian attachment: ” I know our Diggers will welcome Captain Wales into the ranks when he arrives in Australia next month.”
He added: “We have prepared a challenging program that will see Captain Wales deploy on urban and field training exercises, domestic deployments, as well as participate in Indigenous engagement activities.”
Harry will also see how the ADF is supporting wounded, injured and ill service personnel.
The Prince went to Australia during his gap year after his A Levels in 2003 when he worked as a jackaroo on a cattle station. He also attended the International Fleet Review in Sydney in 2013. It will be his first trip to New Zealand.
Published: Tuesday 17th March 2015 by The News Editor