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Harry: Army kept me out of trouble

Harry calls for reintroduction of National Service saying army has "done amazing things for him".

Published 17/05/2015

Prince Harry, throws a rugby ball through a tyre as he takes part in a training excercise at the AUT Millennium Institute of Sport and Health, in Auckland.
Prince Harry, throws a rugby ball through a tyre as he takes part in a training excercise at the AUT Millennium Institute of Sport and Health, in Auckland.

Prince Harry has credited the Army for keeping him out of trouble, and called for National Service to be brought back.

Speaking at the end of his week-long trip to New Zealand, Harry reflected on his time in the armed forces saying it had done amazing things for him, and adding that he dreads to think where he would be now if he had not joined up.

He also encouraged his nephew and niece, George and Charlotte, to one day join themselves as "it's done no harm, just good, for me and I know it's the same for William".

Having spoken at the beginning of his trip about how "great" it would be to have someone to share the pressure of his public role, Harry confirmed that he is currently content being single.

He said: "I'm very happy not having a girlfriend."

Having recently ended his time with the Army, he is set to spend the summer working alongside conservation groups in Africa.

"Yeah, definitely, without a doubt, it does keep you out of trouble. Different people do it for different reasons," he said.

"I did it because since I was a kid I enjoyed wearing the combats, I enjoyed running around with a rifle, jumping in a ditch and living in the rain and stuff.

"But then when I grew up, it became more than that, it became an opportunity for me to escape the limelight.

"I've had an epic ten years, I've had great fun. The Army keep giving me great jobs, and I can never thank them enough for that."

He also spoke of the amazing things that the Army had done for those around him, especially the 11 men who were under his command at Windsor.

"I dread to think where I'd be without the Army. Bring back National Service - I've said that before," he said.

"But I put my hand up, as I said to the kids today, you can make bad choices, some severe, some not so severe.

"You can make bad choices in life, but it's how you recover from those and which path you end up taking.

"And the Army has done amazing things for me. And more importantly to me, what I've seen the Army do to other young guys.

"You know, I was a troop commander in Windsor for three-and-a-half years, but I had 11 guys under my command.

"And some of those guys were - I mean naughty's not the word - they were on a different level. And their backgrounds and the issues they had.

"And then over those three years to see the way that they changed is huge, absolutely huge."

He even went as far as to encourage his niece and nephew to one day join the armed forces and more broadly expressed his wish that they would enjoy their roles in the Royal Family.

"I would definitely encourage George, and Charlotte if she wants to as well, to have some sort of involvement in the armed forces guaranteed," he said.

"And I know that William and Catherine would probably echo that as well, depending on the situation for them in those years to come.

"It's done no harm, just good, for me and I know it's the same for William. It's hard to say anything else on that, because as a parent, it's your choice.

"As an uncle, you know, I would say enjoy the role, because at first it's just pressure, pressure, pressure.

"And it's like any job - you've got to learn how to do it. And I think everyone seems to think that when you grow up in this position it comes naturally."

With his time in Australia and New Zealand behind him, he still remained fairly guarded about where in Africa he would be going but refuted the idea that it was simply a gap year and said he has been wanting to do it for five years.

"Half of it is sort of up in the air. And I don't want people really knowing where I'm going, I think that's fair enough. But to put it to bed, it's not a gap year," he said.

"It will weirdly feel like that for me because, as I said, I feel more myself in Africa, so even if people write it I sort of laugh it off because for me, it's three months of hard grafting, up early mornings, late nights, working with animals, every single animal you could possibly imagine.

"I've been wanting to do it for the past five years, and being in the Army I just never ever had the opportunity to do it.

"With my interests in conservation which I've had all the way through, and for William's as well, it's nice for me to be able to actually get the opportunity to work with people on the ground where the truth is.

"So to actually get the chance to go to Africa, embed myself with the number one top vet in southern Africa, travel with him for three weeks and every job he gets called up to do, I follow him.

"That's like my dream. It's going to be amazing, whether it's darting a lion or going into a community to see how they are changing the way they are working, and for the local culture to accept that an elephant means more to them money-wise alive than shooting it."

Speaking days after his father the Prince of Wales's private letters to government ministers were finally published after a 10-year legal battle, Harry said Charles is usually right about things and expressed his disappointment that he "never really gets listened to".

He said: "My father never really gets listened to, which is disappointing because whatever he says normally is right, and about 10 years ahead of when the problems actually happen."

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