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Profile: Prince Harry

  • 8 November 2016
  • From the section UK
Prince Harry Image copyright Reuters

Prince Harry has long had a difficult relationship with the media and has now released a strongly-worded statement accusing journalists of harassing his new girlfriend, actress Meghan Markle.

Now 32, Prince Harry has grown up in the media spotlight - from a young royal dealing with his mother's death, through his partying teenage years, to his career in the military and, most recently, in charity work.

He has attempted to walk the line between his public and private lives, and has inevitably had to embrace publicity at times in order to promote the good causes he supports.

Harry's military career came to an end in June 2015, shortly after he was pushed down to fifth in line to the throne by the birth of his brother Prince William's second child, Charlotte.

During his 10 years in the Armed Forces, Captain Wales, as he became known, saw action in Afghanistan twice, most recently in 2012 to 2013 as an Apache helicopter co-pilot and gunner.

The prince has said his Army experience will "stay with me for the rest of my life".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prince Harry has become increasingly comfortable with public appearances

In this new phase of his life centred around voluntary work, he has worked with conservation experts in sub-Saharan Africa.

And, like his mother before him, his work in Africa has also focused on humanitarian causes, via the charity he set up, Sentebale, to help children affected by HIV and Aids.

Last autumn, Harry continued his support of the charity Walking With the Wounded by joining five wounded service personnel for part of their 1,000-mile (1,600km) trek around Britain.

This follows a previous trek with the charity in which he walked 200 miles to the South Pole as patron of the South Pole Allied Challenge 2013.

Harry has publicly supported a number of other military charities too, including Help for Heroes and ABF the Soldiers' Charity.

In March 2014, he launched the Invictus Games for injured members of the armed forces and in May 2016 the second incarnation of the event was held in Orlando.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The prince said the Invictus Games would honour the sacrifices made by injured soldiers
Image copyright PA
Image caption In 2006, it was announced that the prince would join the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption He served in Afghanistan in 2008 and 20012-13

But as well as his military and charitable work, the prince has previously been in the spotlight for less admirable reasons.

An early upset involved Harry smoking cannabis.

St James's Palace confirmed in January 2002 that the then 17-year-old had "experimented with the drug on several occasions" but said the use was not "regular".

In October 2004, there was a scuffle with a photographer outside a club.

A royal spokesman said at the time that the 20-year-old prince "was hit in the face by a camera when photographers crowded around him".

"In pushing the camera away, it's understood that a photographer's lip was cut," the spokesman added.

Offensive language

In 2005, there was widespread outrage when an image came to light of the prince at a fancy dress birthday party dressed as a Nazi.

Clarence House later issued a statement saying: "Prince Harry has apologised for any offence or embarrassment he has caused. He realises it was a poor choice of costume."

And in 2009, Harry was forced to apologise for using offensive language to describe an Asian member of his Army platoon after video footage of the incident emerged.

St James's Palace said the prince was "extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause" but said he had "used the term without any malice and as a nickname about a highly popular member of his platoon".

Image copyright AP
Image caption Prince Harry was previously in a relationship with Chelsy Davy

Clarence House complained in 2005 that the prince's safety was put at risk when paparazzi followed Harry and his then girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, as they were driven along a dirt track in Botswana.

There was further difficulty for the prince when a former art teacher at Eton claimed she had done some of Harry's A-level coursework - allegations later rejected at a tribunal.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The prince was an Olympic ambassador at the London 2012 Games

Harry was a constant presence at the London 2012 Games, during which he was an Olympic ambassador.

He was highly visible during the Queen's Jubilee in the same year, and as part of the celebrations completed his first royal solo tour overseas with visits to Belize, the Bahamas, Brazil and Jamaica.

However, photos appeared in August 2012 of the prince and a young woman naked in a Las Vegas hotel room - a reminder of his partying image.

The two photos, first published on US gossip website TMZ, were taken on a private break with friends, with the site reporting the prince was in a group playing "strip billiards".

He later said he had "probably let myself down, I let my family down, I let other people down".

"But at the end of the day I was in a private area and there should have been a certain amount of privacy that one should expect."

'Unacceptable risks'

Prince Harry's military career has undoubtedly been affected by media attention.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Harry served a tour in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter pilot

He was left disappointed in May 2007 when Army chiefs decided not to send him to Iraq because of "unacceptable risks".

He then spent 10 weeks serving in Afghanistan in 2008 - the first royal in more than 25 years to serve in a war zone - but had to pull out amid concerns for his safety after news leaked of his unpublicised deployment.

He returned to Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter pilot from September 2012 to January 2013, before qualifying as an Apache commander in July 2013.

Despite his decision to leave the Army, Harry will return to work in a voluntary capacity with the Ministry of Defence's Recovery Capability Programme, supporting wounded or sick servicemen and women.

Young life

Image copyright PA
Image caption Prince Harry was born on 15 September 1984 to Prince Charles and Princess Diana
Image copyright PA
Image caption Harry, aged five, pictured on his first day at Wetherby School, Notting Hill, in September 1989

Born at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, on 15 September 1984, the prince was christened Henry Charles Albert David by the Archbishop of Canterbury in December 1984 in St George's Chapel, Windsor.

But it was officially announced from the start of his life that he would be known as Harry.

He attended the same schools as his brother William, starting at Jane Mynors' Nursery School in London in September 1987.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Harry followed in the footsteps of his brother by going to school at Eton
Image copyright PA
Image caption The prince, christened Henry, was always known as Harry

In 1989 Prince Harry joined Prince William at Wetherby School, moving to Ludgrove School in Berkshire in September 1992 and entering Eton in 1998.

He left Eton with a grade B in his art A-level and a D in geography. He had dropped his third A-level subject, history of art, after taking the AS-level exam.

Before joining the Army, Harry took a gap year, working on a sheep farm in Australia and with Aids orphans in Lesotho.

Image caption William and Harry's mother, Princess Diana, died in August 1997

Although he is now 32, many people around the world will find it hard to forget the image of him as a 12-year-old at the funeral of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997.

He walked behind the hearse that carried his mother's coffin to Westminster Abbey, accompanied by his brother, father, grandfather and uncle.

Harry was best man at his brother William's wedding in April 2011 and has since spoken of how hard it was not to have his late mother there.

Inevitably, Harry's own love life has been in the press spotlight over the years.

In early 2014 speculation had been mounting that he might propose to girlfriend Cressida Bonas, but the couple then split up.

His statement condemning the media's actions in relation to Meghan Markle also confirmed what had only been speculation until now - that she is, indeed, his girlfriend.

The prince and the American actress - best know for starring in the legal drama Suits - have, Kensington Palace said, been dating for "a few months".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Cressida Bonas and Prince Harry remain "the best of friends", BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said

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