Stand down: Harry to leave Army this year

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PRINCE HARRY is expected to leave the army this year. He is understood to have decided to end his active military career after serving with distinction in Afghanistan.

The move comes as a surprise as Harry is a passionate member of the armed forces who appeared to be focused on a long career serving as a British Army officer.

Kensington Palace would not comment on the news, first reported in London’s Evening Standard, issuing a short statement highlighting his current role.

It said: “Prince Harry is currently focused on his work supporting the Ministry of Defence’s recovery capability programme to ensure those who are wounded, injured or sick have appropriate recovery plans and the necessary support they require. It’s a natural progression from the work he did organising the Invictus Games.

“This involves working alongside case officers in London District’s personal recovery unit and visiting various recovery centres and partner agencies (like forces charities and the NHS) around the country.”

A source close to the royal household said: “This work is helping Prince Harry develop his knowledge of how the system works.

Prince Harry manning the 50mm machine gun on the observation post at JTAC Hill, close to FOB Delhi in Helmand province, Southern Afghanistan, in 2008.

Prince Harry manning the 50mm machine gun on the observation post at JTAC Hill, close to FOB Delhi in Helmand province, Southern Afghanistan, in 2008.

“The military will always play a very important part in Prince Harry’s life and especially supporting those who have served or are serving in the armed forces. It is a topic he is passionate about, both personally and professionally, and he will always want to use his position to help, regardless of his military role.”

The Standard said the 30-year-old prince plans to focus on his charity work and aims to spend “a significant period abroad” on field projects in Africa.

He is keen to pursue his interests in conservation and wildlife and to continue helping the rehabilitation of injured service personnel.

Before his active military duties end, he is expected to move to Australia for “several weeks”, seconded to serve with units there, the newspaper said.

Prince Harry at the British controlled flight-line in Camp Bastion southern Afghanistan

Prince Harry at the British controlled flight-line in Camp Bastion southern Afghanistan

Later he will spend time in New Zealand but not be involved with the military there, it added.

Any major change in Harry’s career is likely to have been discussed and approved by his father the Prince of Wales and grandmother the Queen.

During his Army service the prince was deployed twice to Afghanistan - the first as a battlefield air controller co-ordinating air strikes and the second as an Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner.

And he was the driving force behind last summer’s inaugural Invictus Games - a Paralympics style sporting championship for wounded Armed Forces personnel.

Prince Harry is expected to leave the army this year

Prince Harry is expected to leave the army this year

It proved a huge success both with competitors and spectators and Harry appeared to get great satisfaction from the spectacle which was staged on the eve of his 30th birthday.

With the bidding process under way to stage the next Games in the spring of 2016, and the third earmarked for 2017, the prince will be busy organising the event over the next two years.

Free of his Army commitments he will be able to focus on the project alongside his traditional royal duties.

His Africa-based charity Sentebale - which helps disadvantaged youngsters, mainly Aids orphans - is expected to open a major new centre in Lesotho later this year and there are hopes to expand its work across southern Africa.

Harry is likely to visit the new project and will have more time to spend in Africa, a continent he loves and where he enjoys some anonymity among the locals.