Military veterans have come to Prince Harry's defence following comments made by Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, who has called into question his military record. The politician made headlines this week when she alleged that Harry had failed his Army helicopter pilot exams, while speaking at a meeting called Reigning in the Monarchy. She was quoted as saying: "Harry can't actually fly a helicopter… He tried to pass the helicopter exam about four times and he couldn't get through it at all so he always goes for the co-pilot." Now Harry's former colleagues and injured veterans have come to his defence.
Prince Harry served in the British Army for ten years
Former Army Major Dr Jen Warren, who is the vice-captain of the UK's team at the Invictus Games in Toronto, told the Mail: "There are 550 people out here plus all their family and friends who will tell you that is [rubbish]. Harry is a hero." She went on to praise the Prince for his ten years of military service and his decision to found the Invictus Games, saying; "He talks to the competitors, he talks to the crowd, he doesn't shut himself off or put himself on show."
Her comments were echoed by Bernie Broad, a former Army major who lost both his legs below the knee in an explosion. "Anyone who signs up for the Armed Services is putting their life on line for Queen and country," he said. "Harry is an amazing, amazing man. He joined the Air Corps and the selection for that is treacherous."
The 33-year-old founded the Invictus Games in 2014
Ms Dent Coad has since defended her comments, telling the BBC that her remarks are "an absolute fact", but adding that she cannot prove it. Prince Harry qualified as an Apache helicopter commander in 2013. He served in the Army for ten years, undertaking two tours of Afghanistan in that time. John Woodcock, former chairman of Labour's backbench defence committee has since issued a statement saying that Ms Dent Coad's "highly inaccurate comments" do not reflect the party's views. He said that Harry deserved "praise and respect" for his service in the armed forces, adding: "I am really sorry this happened."
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said she was more interested in the contribution the Royal Family makes to the UK. "We have different views in the Labour Party... but I actually think Prince William and Prince Harry have made the royal family more trendy again. I think there is a role for them - they're part of the staple British diet," she told the BBC.
Tobias Ellwood is among the MPs who have come to Harry's defence
Tobias Ellwood, the defence undersecretary and former army captain, suggested that Ms Dent Coad go to the Invictus Games to witness how Harry was inspiring "our injured heroes". He tweeted: "Emma Dent Coad MP: I invite you to #InvictusGames – learn how it started & about our brave military. And – who inspires our injured heroes."