On the Road with Harry

Silhouette of a soldier against the sun.

No Strolling Allowed

Podcast of Blog Post:

 

Today I travel across the Atlantic and take a gander at two British institutions that, I’ll admit, continue to fascinate this allegedly worldly-wise American, both for their longevity and their endurance, sometimes in spite of each other: the tabloids and the Royals. For today’s thoughts come out of the Labour-leaning British daily, The Daily Mail: “Prince Harry Backs Mirror’s Walking with the Wounded Christmas Appeal for Armed Forces Heroes.”

His Royal Highness Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales , AKA Harry Wales by his Army buddies (and that’s Captain Wales, as far as you’re concerned), served his Grandmother and his nation faithfully from 2005 until June of this year, with two tours of duty to Afghanistan to his credit, as well as completion of Apache helicopter fighter training, and, oh yes, a brief stint as the most sought-after potential-prisoner-of-war in this century so far.

The Prince has in the past several years taken on several different projects to support his fellow combat veterans who have suffered War’s wounds, including the Invictus Games Foundation, an international sports competition for combat veterans which will next take place in Orlando, Florida, USA in May 2016.

And he has regularly supported the UK’s Walking with the Wounded, the featured group of this article,  an organization committed to “undertak[ing] inspirational expeditions” in order “to fund the re-training and re-education of our servicemen and women, both veterans and those leaving The Armed Forces today.”

Expeditions indeed: the Prince has taken part in “walks” to both the North and South Poles. As I said above, not exactly strolls around Windsor Castle before high tea.

Perhaps that is what I have found so fascinating—even, dare I say it, alluring—about His Royal Highness as I think about not only his service, but about combat veterans’ still having what it takes to do what needs to be done.

Having watched him grow up in trailers for American entertainment shows, whether at the site of the most famous French fries ever served at any McDonald’s anywhere or, shall we say, at more infamous sites, both here in the US and elsewhere, the Prince has seemed so bigger-than-life in one way, even as the boy who walked down a London street behind a cortege to bid farewell to his beautiful, bigger-than-life mother…

and yet so utterly ordinary in another way, the ambitious young officer who was perhaps not circumspect enough in some of his “recreations,” yet so deeply disappointed that his very “extraordinariness” did not allow him to serve as fully  with his Army brethren as he had desired.

How many other soldiers have had to endure their grades, their love lives, and their every duty station mined for the next day’s headlines in a Fleet Street tabloid and a Hollywood, dinner-hour gossip fest?

And yet, like how many other soldiers, Captain Wales did what it took to do what needed to be done. And he still does.

And he’s still committed to making sure his fellow servicemen and women remember that they too still can do the same, whether on sports fields in wheelchairs or trekking down British country roads that just the week before might have been backdrops for an episode of Masterpiece Theater.

Trek on, sir. And for your service, Captain, even from the Colonies, we say, “Thank you.”

Until tomorrow, be well,

Doc

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