He may be thousands of miles away and in a different time zone but Prince Harry has been doing his part for the nation’s veterans as the U.K. commemorates the 75th anniversary of V-E Day. The nation came together over the weekend to celebrate with socially distant street parties and to listen to the Queen deliver a rousing speech at the same time her father addressed the United Kingdom on V-E Day 75 years earlier. And on Monday Prince Harry, who served in the Army for ten years and rose to the rank of captain, appeared on the BBC’s The One Show to talk about the lives and work of members of the Second World War “Guinea Pig Club,” and its modern-day equivalent, the CASEVAC Club.
Harry has close ties with the society which is made up of veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom have also participated in the duke’s Invictus Games.
The Duke joined a Zoom call on Tuesday last week to speak with Maggie Wilson, widow of former GPC member Sandy Saunders, and Andy Perry, son of former GPC member Jack Perry. Also on the call were Harry’s close friends David Wiseman and Dave Henson, both founding members of the CASEVAC Club and veterans whom Harry has worked with on many projects, including the Invictus Games.
“Harry has been on lots of conference calls and has been very busy keeping in touch with friends and colleagues,” said a source close to the Duke. “He is keeping up regular communication with all of the organizations he works with at home in the UK.”
CASEVAC – pronounced “cazzy vac”— is a military phrase meaning “Casualty Evacuation.” The organization is a members-only club that supports men and women who have been badly scarred and disfigured in combat in Afghanistan or Iraq.
While Harry has stepped down as a full time royal he plans to maintain his close links to the military. One of the sacrifices he made when he gave up his royal title for a new life independent of the Royal Family was agreeing not to use his official military appointments which were gifted to him by the Queen. Friends have said this was the toughest part of walking away from royal life because the military is such an important part of who Harry is.
After recent reports that he was missing his Army friends and felt homesick in LA, a source told Vanity Fair, “He has a lot of friends in the military community in the UK and of course he misses them. This is a very strange time for us all, but I think Harry is missing having a structure to his life right now. He doesn’t have friends in L.A. like Meghan and he doesn’t have a job. So at the moment he’s a bit rudderless, but it won’t always be like this, and he knows that.”
While the couple are working on their new not-for-profit organization Archewell, Harry will continue to oversee the the Invictus Games, the sporting event he founded for wounded injured or sick service men and women.
The prince delivered a moving message on Saturday night for what should have been the opening of this year’s Invictus Games in the Netherlands. “Life has changed dramatically,” he said. In a video posted on the event’s Twitter account, Harry urged the Invictus family to look out for each other and encouraged them to get involved with virtual activities over the coming days.
“Although we can’t be together in person, I’m really happy that there are plenty of virtual activities planned for this week, and I encourage you all to get involved if you can, because you never know, it might be fun and a change from the norm,” he said. “Throughout this week, we will be seeing and hearing from many Invictus competitors, their experience and resilience in dealing with mental health challenges is something we could all learn lessons from.”
Harry has spoken about his pride for his country, saying he is “incredibly proud” to see the “very best of the human spirit” in the UK as it copes with the pandemic. In a podcast to promote the key role veterans are playing in the effort to beat the virus, he said: “It’s such a wonderfully British thing that we all come to help when we need it.”
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