Prince Harry, a veteran of two front-line tours to Afghanistan, has broken his silence on the fall of the country to the Taliban.
Harry, in a statement posted on social media by the Invictus Games Foundation, the Paralympic-style sporting championships he launched, urged vets to support each other and said the events unfolding in Afghanistan “resonate” with the community of injured former service personnel who make up the Invictus community.
Harry made the comments in a joint statement in his capacity as a patron of the Invictus Games Foundation.
Harry has previously said that some of the most contented days of his life were spent in the army, saying, “The happiest times in my life was the 10 years in the army. I got to wear the same uniform as everybody else. I had to do all the same training as everybody else.”
His service included two front-line tours to Afghanistan.
The first was cut short after his deployment was revealed by an Australian magazine, in violation of a voluntary media blackout on reporting his presence on the battlefields. That story was then picked up by The Drudge Report.
Harry has said it was on his way home from that interrupted tour that he became determined to do something for wounded servicemen after the bodies of soldiers were loaded onto the aircraft on which he was traveling.
Harry said, “In February 2008, I was forced to leave Afghanistan. I’d been serving as an officer in the British Army until my presence on the front line leaked out in the press. I could no longer stay with my soldiers, as it would have put them at greater risk. It was a decision over which I had no control, but the guilt of having to leave my guys behind was something I found hard to swallow, as anyone who has served will understand.
“It was that flight home from Afghanistan which put me on the path to create the Invictus Games. While we sat waiting to board, the coffin of a Danish soldier was loaded onto the plane. Also on the flight were three young British soldiers in induced comas; all three were wrapped in plastic, some with missing limbs and tubes coming out of them everywhere. The sacrifices we ask our servicemen and women to make came home to me so powerfully in those moments.
“Four years later, after another tour in Afghanistan, I began to look for ways in which I could support those veterans who had returned with injuries that, in previous years, simply would have been un-survivable.”
The Invictus Games has been canceled for two years running because of the coronavirus pandemic; however, organizers are hopeful the 2022 edition will go ahead in The Hague, in the Netherlands.