This news is not surprising as it has been circulating in the press for a while, but Kensington Palace officially announced today that Prince Harry will leave the armed forces in June following a ten year military career.
Before leaving the military, Harry will spend four weeks of April and May in Australia where he will be seconded to the Australian Defence Force. Harry will be attached to various units in Darwin, Perth, and Sydney to “gain an appreciation of the Australian Army’s domestic operating environment and capabilities”.
Following his attachment to the ADF, Harry will undertake an official royal tour to New Zealand in May at the invitation of the New Zealand government.
After leaving the military in June, Harry will spend part of the summer in Africa carrying out a program of volunteer work alongside field-based conservation experts, focusing his time “learning how local communities in sub-Saharan Africa are working to protect and conserve their natural resources and wildlife”.
In the Fall, Harry will work in a voluntary capacity for the Ministry of Defence’s Recovery Capability Programme and continue to support Case Officers at London District’s Personnel Recovery Unit which will “enable him to continue developing his knowledge of the entire recovery process, placing him in an informed position to further support wounded, injured, or sick servicemen and women into the future.” During this time, Harry will consider other longer term employment opportunities. He will continue his light schedule of royal duties.
Harry released a personal statement as part of the press release:
- “After a decade of service, moving on from the Army has been a really tough decision. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the chance to do some very challenging jobs and have met many fantastic people in the process. From learning the hard way to stay onside with my Colour Sergeant at Sandhurst, to the incredible people I served with during two tours in Afghanistan – the experiences I have had over the last 10 years will stay with me for the rest of my life. For that I will always be hugely grateful.
- “Inevitably most good things come to an end and I am at a crossroads in my military career. Luckily for me, I will continue to wear the uniform and mix with fellow servicemen and women for the rest of my life, helping where I can, and making sure the next few Invictus Games are as amazing as the last.
- “I am considering the options for the future and I am really excited about the possibilities. Spending time with the Australian Defence Force will be incredible and I know I will learn a lot. I am also looking forward to coming back to London this summer to continue working at the Personnel Recovery Unit.
- “So while I am finishing one part of my life, I am getting straight into a new chapter. I am really looking forward to it.”
My thoughts: 1) Why is Harry being seconded to the Australian Defence Force for a few weeks just before he ends his military career? How is this beneficial for him? It seems pointless if the only thing he will gain is “an appreciation of the Australian Army’s domestic operating environment and capabilities”. 2) I wonder how long he will be in Africa and what exactly he will be doing. It’s great if he’s actually going to be working with charities, but again if the only thing he’s doing is “learning” about conservation it seems pointless, especially since Prince William is the one who is supposed to be all about protecting wildlife. Why doesn’t William do the ‘learning about conservation’ trip to Africa? And is Harry going to do anything with Sentebale while he’s in Africa, or just the conservation stuff? Why not spend part of the summer in Africa focusing on his existing charity? 3) Harry’s schedule is better than the one William took when he left the RAF, but not by much. This still seems like a “gap year” until Harry inevitably finds another non-full-time-royal-duties job to take. 4) I don’t understand what is with William and Harry leaving their military jobs without looking for and lining up a new job first. Sure, Harry has some plans that include volunteer work, and William did that dumb agriculture course that I seriously don’t think he ever finished (KP never announced that he finished that course, while they did announce that he passed all of his air ambulance pilot exams), but William still took a year to find another job (that he’s taking eight more months to start) and Harry is still ‘considering his options’. If they want to leave their military jobs, fine, but why take what basically amounts to a “gap year” before finding another job? Why not line one up before leaving the first job?
I do like Harry and I hope he can find something to do that makes him happy (while giving back to his country in exchange for his free luxury lifestyle), but I’m sick of the BS “gap year” crap from the younger royals. I understand there are a lot of working royals, and that they don’t necessarily need three more full time working royals, but A) most of the other full time working royals are really old and should be winding down their duties soon, and B) the young royals are squandering their youth. It keeps being said that William, Kate Middleton, and Harry will have plenty of time to do full time royal duties in ten or more years when the other royals retire and whatnot (and Prince Charles becomes King), but the young royals are already in their 30s, in ten years they will be in their 40s and the public will be looking for a new generation of young royals because people start to care less as the royals age (William, Kate, and Harry will no longer be the hot young royals, but rather the middle-aged royals who are kind of boring). The young royals could bring so much awareness to their causes yet they run and hide and balk at the idea that they should put forth any more effort than they already do (and William wants to do less). I respect Harry’s commitment to veterans and Sentebale, and I’m sure he’s doing much more behind the scenes than we see, but it still feels like he is running from the press and his public duties, similar to William and Kate. Harry may be more charismatic and better at interacting with people than William, but Harry has a hatred of the press as well, and he’s said as much. So while I do think Harry is more dedicated and would make a better King than William, Harry still has his issues and is basically taking a “gap year” before finding another job that will allow him to put off his full time royal duties, just like William did.
Well now that I’ve got that off my chest… I know Harry is loved by, and gets a pass from, most people, and I’m sure I’ll be in the minority with my critical comments about this. I do like him too, but while he is certainly not as bad as William, Harry still has his issues. Harry, William, and Kate have had enough time easing in to royal duties, it’s time they stepped it up.