He’s a true prince, charming, kind, compassionate and he seems to have found his calling in supporting the veterans of war who grapple with mental illness.
Prince Harry: I will dedicate my life to helping mentally ill ex-servicemen and women
Prince Harry calls for better approach to mental health as he joins injured veterans for ‘Walk of Britain’
By Lucy Clarke-Billings
5:23PM BST 30 Sep 2015
The 31-year-old Prince is patron of the Walk of Britain 2015: Walking With The Wounded and said as country ‘we need to do more’
Prince Harry says he wants to dedicate the rest of his life to working with ex-servicemen fighting mental health problems, as he reveals he feels lucky to have escaped Afghanistan alive.
As he prepared to join injured veterans on part of their 1,000 mile walk across Britain, the Prince said more needs to be done to help personnel with “hidden” injuries.
The 31-year-old is patron of the Walking With The Wounded Walk of Britain and today said as country “we need to do more” to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
Prince Harry joins Walking with the Wounded’s Walk of Britain team at Ludlow Castle in Shrophire as they trek the length of the country on their own personal roads.
He has previously spoken of the “very difficult” transition to civilian life that former service personnel face, particularly those who carry the scars and burdens of the war.
“That military banter never goes, that dark sense of humour will always be there,”
And in an interview with ITV News he has made clear his life-long commitment to helping people battling to overcome grievous injuries, both physical and mental, suffered in the line of duty.
“Mental health is a sensitive subject but it doesn’t need to be,” he said. “We need to talk about it more, get rid of the stigma.
“What better people to bring that to the forefront than these guys? They are mentally strong and they are willing to talk about it.
“I love spending time with these guys. I like to think I know roughly what they’re going through as well. It’s hard to say that because everyone is unique but the main focus, from my point of view, for the rest of my life anyway is to make sure they get the best support possible because I know, and more people are starting to see, how valuable they are within society.
Prince Harry takes a break to play some American Football with NFL representative Dan Marino
Prince Harry takes a break to play some American Football with NFL representative Dan Marino Getty Images
“Whether it’s in this country, or the USA, they are the best people on this planet to bring people together, to improve communities. I think it’s something people need to take notice of.”
Prince Harry also said he missed parts of the army and feels a strong connection to his comrades.
“I miss parts of it,” he said. “That’s another reason why I will be involved with these guys for the rest of my life.
“Because that military banter never goes, that dark sense of humour will always be there. We’ll get into trouble together.”
And while he says an unbreakable sense of patriotism keeps you going, you always feel lucky to return home safe and well.
“If you’re lucky enough to be able to serve your country then you don’t think of anything else,” he said. “Even when these guys are getting injured, the first thought is in their mind is ‘Christ it’s happened to me’.
“You never believe it will happen to you. Of course you believe you’re lucky but let’s not forget the families who are put through that pain and stress as well.”
The prince lent his support to the six-strong team who have taken on the 1,000 mile walk across the country.
The five men and a woman, including two ex-US Marines, are all battling with different injuries, both physical and mental.
Among them are three victims of IED blasts in Afghanistan, amputees and two who suffered traumatic brain injuries. Another lost an eye.
“Of course you believe you’re lucky, but let’s not forget the families who are put through that pain and stress as well,”
Speaking ahead of today’s walk, the Prince said he was “hugely looking forward” to joining the team on their “formidable” challenge.
Today’s section has been taking the team through the picturesque English countryside near Ludlow in Shropshire.
He praised the members of the public who’ve been putting hard-earned money in the donation buckets as the marchers make their way around Britain.
“The support has been amazing,” he said. “People come out to give money and then when they hear what it’s for they put another £20 in.”
And for Prince Harry, spending time with the veterans on the march was the perfect day for him.
“You just have to chat to these guys for five minutes to appreciate what they can still contribute,” he said.
“What’s important is to recognise that the mental health support for these guys, former servicemen and women is there. They have served their country. They have put their lives on the line for their country.”
As he made his way out of a small wood near Craven Arms, jokingly complaining that his legs hurt, he talked about the number of empty homes that can be used in part for homeless veterans.
Prince Harry shows off his beard as he participates in the Walking with the Wounded hike
The prince has always supported the charity since its formation James Watkins/WENN.com
“That’s why I was so happy we did he DIYSOS building, getting together to help house veterans.”
Part of the walk took them through Onibury where Vicky Bailey, 37, who had just picked up her son Miles Bailey from school, stopped him and handed over £5.
“I think he is amazing and what he does is really good,” she said. “Seeing that landlords are giving up homes for veterans who don’t have homes and jobs to go to is great. I hope he keeps up the good work.”
Further along the road Daniel Evans, 30, put a couple of pounds in the bucket and showing off his five month old son to Harry was teased by the prince, “That’s not how you hold a baby.”
But he declined the option to hold him.
On the outskirts of Onibury Harry stopped to play some American football.
The trek started in Scotland in August and is set to take 72 days, finishing at Buckingham Palace on November 1.
Harry has supported WWTW since the charity was formed, taking part in its treks to the North Pole in 2011 and South Pole in 2013.
He was also patron of its Everest expedition in 2012.