Prince Harry has poignantly reminisced about what goes through his mind as he stands at the main British memorial to fallen troops.
Harry, 36, will not be among the Royal Family laying wreaths and paying their respects at the Cenotaph in Westminster, London, this year.
Since standing down from the working Royal Family, he has been living in California. But the military community is very much on his mind on this most special weekend in Britain as the sacrifices of millions of service people are remembered.
In the podcast Declassified, released on Saturday, Harry talks about the British tradition of wearing a poppy in tribute to veterans and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and says he does so for “the soldiers I knew, as well as those I didn't. The soldiers who were by my side in Afghanistan, those who had their lives changed forever, and those that didn't come home.”
“I wear it to celebrate the bravery and determination of all our veterans, and their loved ones, especially those in our Invictus family. These are the people and moments I remember when I salute, when I stand at attention and when I lay a wreath at the Cenotaph,” he shares.
And he says that as a father to 1-year-old Archie, he aims to channel the same values instilled in him during his ten-year military career in his civilian life. “Service is what happens in the quiet and in the chaos. It's what happens in the darkness, it’s what happens when people aren't looking. It’s what happens on and off the battlefield. It's about carrying out our duty as soldiers,” Harry says. “For me as a father, a husband and as a human being, it’s about how we uphold these values in every aspect of our lives.”
It comes as the former army captain, who served for 10 years and made two tours to Afghanistan, talks emotionally about what his service meant to him. “When I get asked about this period of my life I draw from memories, I draw from what I remember and who I remember,” he says. “Like the first time we were shot at and who I was with, the casualties we saw, and those we saved. And the first medivac we escorted out of contact in a race against time.”
With so many commemorations not able to take place this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Harry concludes, “Even when we can’t all be together, we always remember together.”
Harry’s tours to Afghanistan helped inspire him to set up the Invictus Games, in which sick, injured or veteran service people from around the world compete in a Paralympic-style contest. And among those joining him on the podcast are some familiar faces to Harry.
Former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers, who is currently taking part in the British Dancing with the Stars, Strictly Come Dancing, was in the original Invictus Games and is now a broadcaster and commentator on Paralympic sports; and Dave Henson, who is a former captain of the British Invictus team, and David Wiseman, another friend and Invictus veteran.
They are among 20 veterans and community members, including Royal Navy Petty Officer and poet Ben Taylor, explorer and former officer Levison Wood and military historian Dr. Emily Mayhew.
Michael Coates, the host of the Declassified podcast and a veteran, said in a statement, “Remembrance is so personal for many within the military community and this episode really highlights this.”
Coates added, “Having Harry’s viewpoint only backs up the need to stay connected and never forget those who sacrificed and also those who are still here today. We remember together.”
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