The United Kingdom’s Prince Harry has married actress Meghan Markle, essentially in front of the entire world, today in Windsor, Berkshire, England. He’s grown up in the limelight, and is likely used to all the attention by now. But a lot of people may not know that His Royal Highness Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, as he’s properly known, has faced more intimidating circumstances than saying “I do” in front of a lot of cameras; he spent a decade serving in the British military.
According to CNN, Prince Harry enrolled at Eton, a prestigious college chosen by his mother, the late Princess Diana. Harry’s older brother, Prince William, also attended Eton. After graduating, Harry spent some time abroad, traveling, before enrolling at Sandhurst, the royal military academy, in May 2005.
According to the British royal family’s official website, Harry spent 44 weeks training in Camberley as an officer cadet, studying theory and enduring a demanding physical regimen. Upon completion, he was commissioned as an officer in April 2006 and joined the Blues and Royals, a cavalry regiment in the British Army.
Many facts about Prince Harry’s military service have come to light after the fact, out of necessity. As CNN reported, he was set to be stationed in Iraq in 2007, but his deployment was canceled after threats were made against him. That December, he deployed to Afghanistan, serving four months before his presence there was made public, necessitating his removal.
“In December 2008, Prince Harry passed his Army Air Corps ‘Grading’ and Pilot’s Selection Board interview to begin training to become and Army Air Corps Pilot in January 2009. On successful completion of that Army Pilots Course, Prince Harry was selected to train on the Apache Attack Helicopter,” the royal family’s website reads.
CNN reports that Prince Harry returned to Afghanistan in 2012, having been promoted to the rank of captain, and flew multiple Apache missions while stationed there. As the Guardian reported at the time, he admitted to killing insurgents on piloting missions. The outlet also reported on Harry’s frustrations with certain media outlets and that his father, Prince Charles, sometimes asked him to conduct himself in a manner more befitting a member of the royal family.
“My father’s always trying to remind me about who I am and stuff like that. But it’s very easy to forget about who I am when I am in the army. Everyone’s wearing the same uniform and doing the same kind of thing. I get on well with the lads and I enjoy my job. It really is as simple as that,” the Guardian story reads.
The royal family’s website states that Prince Harry took an administrative role in 2014, working on logistics and planning “significant projects and commemorative events involving the Army in London.” It was in this capacity that he organized the first Invictus Games, a multi-sport athletic competition for wounded or injured military veterans and personnel, in 2014. The Invictus Games were subsequently held again in 2016 and 2017.
Prince Harry’s retirement from military service was announced in March 2015.