In pictures: Prince Harry returns to Sandhurst 11 years after his own graduation
The prince was inspected by his grandmother the Queen during his own commissioning in April 2006, and was pictured grinning as she smiled at him.
Prince Harry returned to Sandhurst to inspect the newest batch of officer recruits, more than a decade after his own graduation from the prestigious military academy.
Harry, who represented the Queen at the historic Sovereign’s Parade, recalled personal memories of his passing out as he addressed the latest commissioning officers.
Prince Harry is today representing Her Majesty The Queen as the Reviewing Officer at the Sovereign’s Parade. The Sovereign’s Parade marks the passing out from Sandhurst of Officer Cadets who have competed the Commissioning Course. pic.twitter.com/5v6ZFSApz9— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 15, 2017
On that occasion in April 2006 the prince was inspected by his grandmother the Queen and was pictured grinning as she smiled at him.
Speaking to the 201 commissioning officers at the parade ground in Camberley, Surrey, on Friday, he joked that his mind then had been focussed on the challenges of the military parade rather than his achievement in becoming an officer.
He said: “It is not the first time that I have been a part of this parade but it is certainly my first one facing in this direction – and with facial hair!
“A little over 11 years ago, I was stood where you are today. Although I confess, I don’t remember any deep thoughts of duty, responsibility and leadership at that point.
“My head was filled with much more immediate concerns: numb feet, the buckle of my braces digging into my collarbone, a burning in my arm from the weight of the rifle; and above all, desperate attempts to remember what the next words of command were, to avoid drawing the attention from the Academy sergeant major one last time!”
The Band of the Scots Guards played various tunes, including Adele’s Rolling In The Deep, as the soldiers marched in front of the prince on the bright but bitterly cold December day.
The event came as it was revealed that the newly-engaged royal’s wedding to Meghan Markle will take place on May 19 next year.
Following the traditional inspection, Harry presented the Sword of Honour to Senior Under Officer Charles Rex, from Dorset, and the Queen’s Medal to Officer Cadet George Harrison from Wiltshire.
The International Award was presented to Officer Cadet Mingdong Tang from China, and the International Sword to Officer Cadet Milosh Trendevski from Macedonia.
Senior Under Officer Rex said it had been “amazing” to have Harry, who left the army in 2015, present him with the top award.
The 23-year-old, who will now join The Rifles, said: “I can’t really describe it. To get the Sword of Honour and to have Prince Harry here today is amazing. He knows what it is like to be here at Sandhurst.”
Harry appeared impressed by a painting of himself and other members of the royal family at his own passing out, which hangs just inside the entrance of the Old College building.
Smiling at the work by artist Sergei Pavlenko which features the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and Duke of Cambridge, Harry spoke with John Archibald, who has been hall porter at the academy for 19 years.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Archibald said: “He said it’s the first time he’s seen it hanging on the wall here. He said he liked it and asked ‘is it well respected?’ And I said it is.”
HRH was commissioned as an Army officer in April 2006. The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, took the salute at the Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst. The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and The Duke of Cambridge also attended the Parade. pic.twitter.com/m5ozneIWnr— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 15, 2017
Earlier, Harry attended the commissioning service at the Royal Memorial Chapel.
The Sovereign’s Parade takes place at the end of each term for those who have completed the intensive, year-long Commissioning Course.
Sandhurst, where the Army’s officers are trained, has hosted many famous graduates including the Sultan of Brunei, Sir Winston Churchill, fascist Sir Oswald Mosley, James Bond author Ian Fleming and actor David Niven, as well as members of the royal family, including the Duke of Cambridge.
Harry has previously described his decade-long Army career as “epic”, saying that while it had started as a boyhood dream of his it eventually became a way for him to “escape the limelight”.
During his 10 years in the military Harry went on two tours of duty to Afghanistan and qualified as an Apache aircraft commander.