Prince Harry - Biography
Ever since Prince Harry was a toddler, there's been an impish side to his character. And as he matured into a young man determined, he declared, to continue his mother's charitable works, the fun-loving, devil-may-care side to his personality has landed him in a few scrapes.
Born Prince Henry Charles Albert David on September 15, 1984, at St Mary's Hospital in West London, he soon came to be known as Harry, and was later dubbed "the Happy Prince". As a flame-haired toddler he attended Mrs Jane Mynors' nursery school as had his elder brother Prince William. And by the time he arrived at Ludgrove School in 1992, the cheeky little boy had already built up a reputation as an athlete and rider.
His mother, Princess Diana, was determined her sons should enjoy a "normal" lifestyle, and the three were frequently spotted at amusement parks, popping into McDonalds, and going to the cinema. Tragically, at the age of 12 Harry found himself deprived of a mother who had lived her life around her sons. Like his brother William he showed great bravery in the face of devastating loss.
In the months immediately following his mother's death Harry shied away from public life. In October 1997 he accompanied his father on an eight-day tour of South Africa, however, where father and son attended a charity concert given by the Spice Girls after which Harry met Nelson Mandela, then president of South Africa.
In September 1998, a year after their mother's death, the Princes jointly issued a statement asking the press and the public to let Diana rest in peace, and to allow them to carry on with their lives away from the glare of public scrutiny.
Harry, although not seen as academically gifted as his brother William, earned a place at Eton in 1998 and became instantly popular with his fellow students. He soon settled into the school's routine, finding a variety of outlets for his academic, sporting and creative talents. A keen sportsman who loves abseiling, football and skiing, he has a reputation for being "one of the lads", unlike his more serious brother, to whom he is very close.
Having graduated from Eton he embarked upon a gap year, some of which was spent as a ranch hand on an Australian cattle station. The break was then extended for a further 12 months. During this time he also visited Argentina and Africa, where he made a documentary about the plight of orphans in Lesotho. Showing the same compassionate streak as his mother he went on to found his own charity, Sentebale, with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho. The organisation helps orphaned children and vulnerable young people in the Southern African country.
Despite his charitable work, however, Harry hasn't always attracted approving headlines. He came in for heavy criticism in early 2005 when he attended a fancy dress party wearing a Nazi uniform a few days before Holocaust memorial day. The 20-year-old's photo was splashed across national newspapers and former royal press secretary Dicky Arbiter declared, "Prince Charles has been let down by his wayward son." Clarence House issued an immediate apology for any offence caused. It wasn't the first time the tabloids had had a field day with Harry's behaviour. The previous year he was involved in a scuffle with a photographer outside a London nightclub.
In May 2005 Harry began a new phase in his life, joining the prestigious military academy Sandhurst as an officer cadet. Known as Cadet officer Wales he successfully completed the often gruelling 44-week training course and was commissioned as an Army officer in April 2006 in front of the Queen.
After completing a course in Dorset to become an armoured reconnaissance leader he joined the Blues and Royals regiment in Windsor, which together with the Life Guards forms the Household Cavalry, where he holds the title of Second Lieutenant or Cornet. Despite initial dispute over whether he should serve in a war zone, Harry shipped out to Afghanistan with the other men in his regiment. He served in dangerous Helmand province before a leak on his whereabouts forced the Army to pull him out.
Like Wills, Harry encountered love early on - with pretty blonde South African Chelsy Davy. The pair, who seemed to share a fun-loving spirit, began dating in 2004 and enjoyed several happy years together.
Early in 2009, though, the couple called time on their relationship, with friends saying Harry had become increasingly focused on his dream of becoming a helicopter pilot.
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