Prince Harry Opens Up About Deployment in Afghanistan; Prince William Celebrates St. Patrick's Day Without Kat
By Raphael Chestang
Prince Harry has opened up about the moment after his first deployment to Afghanistan that changed his life.
The 31-year-old royal served as an officer in the British Army and led a team for 10 weeks during his first tour before being extracted. The uncertainty about what would happen to his team left him broken.
"I didn't know what was going to happen to them and then suddenly I find myself on a plane that's delayed because a Danish soldier's coffin was being put onto the plane," Harry said while speaking with Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts on Thursday. "Then, while I'm sitting there, I look through the curtain in the front, and there's three of our lads wrapped up in plastic, missing limbs."
Harry went on to explain that the moment immediately struck him on a visceral level.
"One of the guys clutching a little test tube or whatever it is of shrapnel that had been removed from his head and he was in a coma, clutching this thing," Harry recalled. "And I suddenly thought to myself, 'People don't get to see this.' I never in those 10 weeks, I never saw the injury part. I only heard about it."
For Harry, those grisly sights are what ignited a fire in him to reach out to veterans.
"There's a reason why I've been in the Army and I would never have left the Army and not done this role," Harry noted. "These people are role models and they need to be. It needs to be celebrated more amongst society."
Thanks to the Invictus Games, which Harry launched in London in 2014, veterans are being honored more for their courage.
"No one wants sympathy. All they want is an opportunity to prove themselves, and that's what this is all about," Harry said of the Games. "I'm now lucky enough to watch someone who should be dead run the 100 meters. You want a definition of inspiration? That's probably it."
While Harry celebrated the British military, Prince William celebrated St. Patrick's Day on Thursday with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards. The 33-year-old Duke of Cambridge handed out shamrocks to the officers and servicemen and women as the honorary Colonel of the Regiment.
William took on the task solo this time, but in previous years, Kate Middleton has joined him.
"The Duchess has very much enjoyed the occasions when she has been able to attend, but the Duke is the Colonel of the Regiment and very much enjoyed presenting the Irish Guards with their Shamrock," a spokesman for Kensington Palace told ET. "The Duchess looks forward to marking St Patrick's Day with the Irish Guards many times in the future."
With her India and Bhutan tours coming up, Kate took the time to focus on her children -- Prince George, 2, and Princess Charlotte, 10 months.
Last year, the Duke and Duchess attended the annual parade at Mons Barracks in Aldershot, England, while Kate was still pregnant with Charlotte.