Prince Harry: Afghanistan

Prince Harry is a war veteran who served with the British Army for 10 years – including two tours of duty to war-torn Afghanistan. In a recent interview, he revealed that serving in Afghanistan had forced him to deal with emotional issues relating to his mother’s death in a car accident when he was just 12 years old.

The prince passed his Regular Commissions Board examination, enabling him to begin training at Sandhurst military academy in September 2004 – the physically demanding test assesses physical, mental and emotional suitability. Training began in 2005 and Harry joined the Blues and Royals in 2006. He was commissioned as an officer of the British Army on 12th April 2006, joining his regiment on 8th May.

In February 2008, it was revealed by the Ministry of Defence that Prince Harry, then aged 23, had been on active duty on the frontline in Helmand, Afghanistan for more than two months. This had been kept secret for security reasons. He was promoted to lieutenant with the Blues and Royals on 13th April 2008. After successfully completing his Apache test in March 2011, he received his Apache Flying Badge on 14th April – he completed his training at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk.

Stationed at Camp Bastion as part of the 662 Squadron, 3rd Regiment Army Air Corps, he returned to Afghanistan for a second tour of duty on 7th September 2012 when he was co-pilot and gunner in an Apache helicopter on a combat tour.

Within days of arriving, a report by respected news agency Reuters claimed the Taliban were actively targeting the prince and had been told to kill or kidnap him. Despite the threats, he completed a 20-week deployment and returned home safely in 2013. In July that year, it was announced he had qualified as an Apache commander.

In 2016, one of the prince’s former Army colleagues, Sergeant Tom Pal of the anti-tank platoon, revealed how Prince Harry’s camp had come under direct attack from the Taliban when a 107mm rocket was launched at the facility in Helmand. Sgt Pal said he was surprised that a member of the royal family had been serving in a dangerous job on the frontline but he praised the way the prince carried out his duties.

In a recent media interview, Prince Harry admitted serving in Afghanistan’s war zones had forced him to come to terms with his mother’s death. In a frank admission, he said Diana’s death had left him with plenty of issues that he’d never faced up to before. He admitted that after losing his mum at the age of 12 and never having dealt with it, he suddenly said to himself, “Right – deal with it,” while in Afghanistan.

Although he had received counselling following Diana’s death in 1997, he said it wasn’t until he was in his 20s that he finally “processed” what had happened.

He described the Invictus Games that he launched for wounded service personnel as a kind of “cure”, because speaking to other people about their injuries and problems had helped to heal him. Afterwards, Prince Harry was praised for his frankness in openly discussing his issues, as it was widely considered that it would help others.

Completing a tour of duty in Afghanistan wasn’t easy for any of the military personnel, who lived with the constant threat of injury or death every day. Some returned home with life-changing injuries, including loss of limbs. The overstretched Afghan hospital service had to treat victims of the conflict, as well as carrying on with their normal day-to-day medical care.

The hospitals are crucial to both the local people and the hundreds of military personnel, yet they still come under attack. In October 2015, the Medecins Sans Frontieres trauma centre in Kunduz was destroyed by airstrikes, causing the deaths of 42 people, including 24 patients.

As the struggle continues to provide adequate medical facilities, a refurbishment has been carried out at a hospital for the troops in Kandahar Province – Automatic Access was commissioned to provide brand new automatic doors at the facility. The hands-free operation of the doors at the hospital is of major benefit, as not only does it permit easy access for the wounded and stretcher-bearers, it also helps to maintain sanitation by preventing dirt and dust from entering the building. Another notable benefit of automatic doors for hospitals is that they ensure that air conditioning and heating systems work more efficiently, thus keeping operating costs down.