With the release of the (somewhat) tell-all book Finding Freedom, more and more details of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s exit from their positions as senior royals are coming to the fore. One topic that hasn’t made as many headlines is the toll that stepping down is taking on Prince Harry’s position in the military.
Harry is a veteran, and part of the honors he had to leave behind are his military titles. After attending Eton College boarding school, Harry joined Sandhurst, a royal military academy. He completed his officer training in 2006 and rose to the rank of Captain over the course of 10 years, spending two tours in Afghanistan as a helicopter pilot.
Harry, who long struggled with public life, explained that “it’s very easy to forget about who I am when I am in the Army.” His honorary appointments included Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Navy’s Small Ships and Diving Operations.
According to Finding Freedom, losing these titles has hit Harry hardest.
“That’s been a tough pill to swallow, and one that has been the most painful for Meghan to witness him go through. It’s the one that made Harry emotional.”
The book also quotes him as saying “I am devastated that I am having to step down.”
While speaking at the Endeavour Fund Awards in March, Harry reiterated how much his time of service has meant to him over the years. He thanked veterans, saying:
“Being able to serve Queen and Country is something we all are rightly proud of, and it never leaves us. Once served, always serving! Leaving the military and hanging up your uniform is – we know – an incredibly hard thing to do…unless of course it’s blue in color…
But being forced to hang it up due to injury, beyond your control, can be even more difficult to accept. It can take time and effort to recognize the fact that it is something that happened to you, rather than something that’s wrong with you – so please don’t ever forget that.
I feel lucky to be able to count myself as one of you; and am deeply proud to have served among you as Captain Wales. A lot of you tonight have told me you have my back, well I’m also here to tell you, I’ve always got yours.”
“It was so unnecessary. And it’s not just taking something away from him; it’s also the entire military veteran community. You can see how much he means to them, too. So why? The powers [of the institution] are unfortunately greater than me.”
There has certainly been plenty of fallout from their decision to step down as senior royals, but this seems to be an especially deep cut.