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Prince Harry: I was broken after Afghanistan tour was cut short

Published 17/03/2016

Prince Harry said he wanted to prove he had skills
Prince Harry said he wanted to prove he had skills

Prince Harry has described his time serving in the armed forces as "the best escape I've ever had" and said he was "broken" after being withdrawn from Afghanistan when news of his secret deployment was leaked.

The Prince, who served two operational tours in Afghanistan, said all he wanted to do was "to prove to other people" he had skills "rather than just being Prince Harry".

"Ten years in the Army was the best escape I've ever had," he said in an interview broadcast on US TV show Good Morning America.

"I felt as though I was really achieving something. I felt as though I was part of a team.

"All I wanted to do was prove to other people that I had a certain set of skills - let's say flying an Apache helicopter, for instance - rather than just being Prince Harry."

Harry's first tour of Afghanistan between 2007 and 2008, where he was serving as a forward air controller, was cut short after a news blackout deal over his tour of duty was broken by foreign media.

He told presenter Robin Roberts that being pulled away from his fellow troops left him "broken".

"I'd done everything I could to get out there," he said.

"Literally being plucked out of my team ... a nd there was an element of me thinking 'I'm an officer, I'm leaving my soldiers and it's not my own decision'. I was broken."

He served his second tour as an Apache pilot between September 2012 and January 2013, but left the armed forces in March last year after 10 years of service.

Inspired by his experiences, Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014, a Paralympic-style competition for injured servicemen and women.

The Prince will attend the next games in Orlando, America, in May and yesterday announced the 2017 games would be held in Toronto, Canada.

He told Good Morning America that seeing injured troops while flying home from his first deployment motivated him to promote their cause.

Harry said he was "perfectly positioned" to be "their voice and champion" after 10 years' service and added that the event was an opportunity for former troops "to prove themselves".

"Some of these guys should be dead. Never before have we had so many amputees survive from such unbelievably traumatic injuries", he said.

"I'm now lucky enough to watch someone who should be dead run the 100 metres. You want a definition of inspiration? That's probably it."

He added that the "stigma" of so-called "invisible" injuries was a "massive issue".

"I want to re-emphasise the point to people that it's not a ticking time bomb", he said.

"Psychological illnesses can be fixed if sorted out early enough.

"We've got to keep the issue at the forefront of people's minds and you know what? The simplest thing is just talking about it. It makes all the difference."

The second part of Harry's interview will be broadcast on Good Morning America tomorrow.

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From Belfast Telegraph