Prince Harry leaves Army helicopter job to lead drive to bring Warrior Games to London

He hopes royal profile will expand impressive international Olympic-style competition for wounded servicemen and women

Robert Jobson
Friday 17 January 2014 11:55
Prince Harry at the Warrior Games during his May 2013 visit to the US
Prince Harry at the Warrior Games during his May 2013 visit to the US

Prince Harry has left his job as an Army Air Corp helicopter pilot to spearhead an ambitious attempt to bring the Warrior Games - the injured servicemen's "Olympics" - to London.

The Evening Standard reveals today that Harry, 29, will run the bid from his new offices in Buckingham Palace and wants to host America's Warrior Games at the Olympic Stadium.

It is understood he has the blessing of The Queen and his grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh, a former Royal navy officer, for the Paralympic-style games.

It still has to be cleared by Downing Street.

Harry hopes his profile will help expand the impressive international Olympic-style competition for wounded servicemen and women - from the UK, the Commonwealth and America.

One senior source told The Evening Standard: "Prince Harry is passionate about this project. He believes it will be an amazing event that will bring the focus of attention on the problems facing those injured on the frontline and will serve to inspire servicemen and women and the wider public.

"The Prince believes the spectacle of ex-military athletes competing against each other would attract huge crowds too. It is his vision. He hopes too it will be televised to reach a maximum audience."

Kensington Palace is expected to later today officially announced the prince who has twice served on the frontline in Afghanistan has quit his job as an Army Air Corps Apache helicopter pilot.

Palace officials confirmed to the London Evening Standard that Prince Harry's bid to spearhead the Warrior Games in the UK was "under consideration."

January 2013: Prince Harry carries out a pre-flight check of his Apache Helicopter after starting his 12 hour VHR (very high readiness) shift

Another source told us: "It is 90 per cent there. The final boxes have to be ticked."

It is understood the project still has to be cleared by the Downing Street and the Government but Harry's idea has broad support.

Prince Harry attended the last Warrior Games in Aspen, Colorado when he visited the US in May last year.

He took part in a torch-lighting ceremony at the opening of the games on the third day of his US tour.

Almost 300 injured servicemen and women from the UK and US competed in last year's games.

Ahead of the ceremony the prince participated in a practice match with some of the athletes.

The Prince's focus on bringing the Warrior Games to Britain will take up a huge amount of his time and comes amid rumours that Harry's relationship with girlfriend Cressida Bonas has cooled.

January 2013: Prince Harry relaxes after scoring a goal during a computer football game with his fellow Apache Helicopter Pilot Capt Simon Beattie (left), during their 12 hour VHR (very high readiness) shift

It is understood the prince - who did not spend Christmas or New Year with his on/off girlfriend - is still very close to Cressida even though he wants to focus on work for the next year.

One source close to the couple told The London Evening Standard: "It is fair to say he will have a lot on his plate. This will be his focus going forward.

"But of course he and Cressida are still friends, they get on really well. Although talk of a possible wedding this year is wide of the mark they are happy with the relationship as it is at the moment."

This venture is the next stage in Harry's impressive military career that has seen him win the respect of his peers in the Armed Forces.

In February 2008, Prince Harry completed more than two months service with the British Army in Helmand province, Afghanistan, as a 'Forward Air Controller' for NATO forces.

On 13th April 2008, Prince Harry was promoted from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant.

December 2013: Walking With The Wounded teams gathering at the start line of the Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge expedition in Antarctica. Prince Harry is part of the British team for the South Pole expedition

In January 2009, he began a two-and-a-half year training course to become a fully operational, full-time Army Air Corps helicopter pilot.

He remains an officer in the Household Cavalry during the training period. Prince Harry's principal residences are at Clarence House in London and Highgrove in Gloucestershire.

A new Household Office was set up at St James's Palace, London, for Prince Harry and for his brother, Prince William, in January 2009 to reflect their growing public lives.

The Prince is currently Patron of a number of charities and organisations (including Sentebale) and he holds two honorary military appointments (in the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force).

The Prince focuses much of his charitable activity around the Princes' Charities Forum, a grouping of organisations with which he and his brother have close links and which assists in promoting ideas and joint initiatives to the benefit of all the members.

His decision to throw himself into this project came after he became the first member of the royal family to reach the South Pole in an epic trek for the charity Walking With The Wounded.

The prince, patron of the organisation, was part of a British group racing against teams from the Commonwealth and USA. Among them are severely injured ex-servicemen.

September 2013: Prince Harry, center, eats a biscuit after a cold chamber training exercise with the Walking with the Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge 2013 British team at Nuneaton, central England

Organisers decided to suspend the trek's competitive element because of bad weather conditions. The teams have endured 50mph winds and temperatures as low as minus 45C as they cover nine to 12 miles a day.

Before reaching the Pole, a jubilant Prince Harry sent a message saying: "Everybody is really excited. We just can't wait to get to the end."

When we put the story to Kensington Palace they told the London Evening Standard that "detailed feasibility work" is currently Is being undertaken on behalf of the Royal Foundation and the MOD on concepts and funding for the UK to host the inaugural International Warrior Games later this year.

A spokesman told us: "A final recommendation will be made at the end of January. Prince Harry was hugely impressed by the Warrior Games, which he visited in the United States in May last year. He said then he would be keen to see it brought to the UK and would do what he could to help."

Prince Harry meets Warrior Games competitors after a seated volleyball exhibition match during the Warrior Games in Colorado

An official announcement said: "Prince Harry has completed his attachment to 3 Regiment Army Air Corps and will now take up a Staff Officer role in HQ London District.

The Prince will take the position of SO3 (Defence Engagement). His responsibilities will include helping to co-ordinate significant projects and commemorative events involving the Army in London. Prince Harry will retain the rank of Captain and be based from Horse Guards, in Central London.

Prince Harry spent three and a half years in training and operational service with the Apache Force during his attachment to the Army Air Corps.

Lieutenant Colonel Tom de la Rue, who commanded Prince Harry in the Army Air Corps said: "Captain Wales has reached the pinnacle of flying excellence as an Apache pilot, particularly in Afghanistan and, in the process, has proved to be a real inspiration to the many Army Air Corps officers and soldiers who have come to know him so well."

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