Party prince and former soldier matured into a champion of charities

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Prince Harry is the party prince and former soldier who matured into a champion of charities, but who has still faced struggles with his royal role.

Engaged to his girlfriend Meghan Markle, the fifth in line to the throne is finally settling down, ready for marriage.

His openness about how he battled to cope with the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales and came close to a “complete breakdown” has won plaudits from mental health charities, and his dedication to helping military veterans has been commended.

Just as he seemed to have proven himself as an accomplished statesman for modern royalty, his frankness in June 2017 over his royal duties caused a stir, with the Prince admitting to a Newsweek journalist that he once “wanted out” of the Royal Family.

Harry confessed he “decided to stay in and work out a role for myself”, but also suggested that none of the Windsors wanted to be King or Queen.

The Duke of Cambridge’s impulsive younger brother used to be known for his scuffles, scrapes and scandals.

As a younger man he brawled with a paparazzi photographer, dabbled with cannabis and sparked worldwide outrage by dressing up as a Nazi for a fancy dress party.

England v Wales
Prince Harry used to known for his partying ways (Gareth Copley/PA)

A raucous road trip to Vegas in 2012 ended with photos being printed around the world of the naked prince frolicking with a woman in his hotel room during a game of strip billiards.

Commentators once declared he was a potential liability. But Harry seems to have found his feet as a senior royal and love with American actress Meghan Markle.

Whether promoting his Heads Together campaign to end stigma over mental health with William and the Duchess of Cambridge or supporting military veterans, Harry is passionate about his charitable causes.

He has fought for his country in the Army, undertaking two front-line tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry tour of duty in Afghanistan
Prince Harry served his country in Afghanistan (John Stillwell/PA)

He represented his grandmother the Queen overseas for the first time in 2012 when he headed to Belize, The Bahamas and Jamaica to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

He sprinted with Olympic 100m champion Usain Bolt, danced to Bob Marley in Kingston and displayed a natural talent for endearing diplomacy by hugging and holding hands with the Jamaican prime minister Portia Simpson-Miller just hours after she repeated her intention to hold a referendum to remove the Queen as head of state.

A two-week tour to the Caribbean in 2016, again on behalf of the Queen, saw him play cricket, release baby turtles into the sea and get tested for HIV with superstar Rihanna to raise awareness on World Aids Day.

Down to earth and personable, the Prince is relaxed when he meets members of the public and particularly at ease dealing with young children.

WellChild awards 2015
Prince Harry, patron of WellChild, is known for his rapport with youngsters (Justin Tallis/PA)

Royal author Penny Junor said: “He’s an exceedingly nice man. He’s kind. He’s generous and he’s thoughtful. He’s not up himself in any way and he’s doing a really, really good job. He does deserve to be happy.”

The second son of the Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince Henry Charles Albert David was born at 4.20pm, weighing 6lb 14oz, on September 15, 1984.

Palace officials announced he was to be known as Harry and his father later declared this was always the case unless he had been “very, very naughty”.

Royalty – Royal Family – Western Isles
Baby Prince Harry being carried by his mother the Princess of Wales in 1985 (PA)

The young Prince was, unlike William, free from the responsibility of one day having to be king. He went to Eton after private nursery, pre-prep and prep school and grew up to have a daredevil approach to sport and life in general.

Harry and William saw their parents go though a difficult divorce amid the scandal of affairs.

Then in 1997, Diana was tragically killed in a car crash in Paris when Harry was just 12.

Etched in the public’s memory is the harrowing image of the young Prince, dwarfed by his brother, father, uncle and grandfather, walking bravely behind the horse-drawn gun carriage transporting his mother’s body through the streets packed with mourners.

Earl Spencer on Today programme
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and the Prince of Wales walking behind the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales (Tony Harris/PA)

In 2006 Harry founded his charity Sentebale in honour of Diana to help disadvantaged children in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho.

He spoke movingly about his mother in 2010 during a joint tour of southern Africa with William.

“Every day, I know I do and I’m sure William does as well, whatever we do, wherever we are and whoever we’re with, I particularly always wonder what she’d think, what she’d be doing if she was with us now,” he said.

He travelled to Angola in August 2013 to see landmine clearance work by a charity championed by Diana just months before she died.

He took part in a gruelling trek to the South Pole in December 2013 in aid of the Walking with the Wounded charity, joining a team of injured British servicemen and women in the race against groups from the US and the Commonwealth.

Harry’s military career was his focus for many years.

Prince Harry Graduates Sandhurst In The Passing Out Sovereign’s Parade -Sandhurst Military Academy
Prince Harry smiles as his grandmother the Queen reviews him and other officers at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (James Vellacott/PA)

He attended Sandhurst and joined the Household Cavalry’s Blues and Royals in 2006 to train as a troop leader of an armoured reconnaissance unit.

He was devastated in 2007 when plans for him to serve in Iraq fell through because of security threats.

Later that year he achieved his dream of seeing front-line action, spending 10 weeks in Afghanistan as a forward air controller, co-ordinating air strikes on Taliban positions.

His tour was cut short when foreign websites broke a media blackout on reporting the details.

With a burning desire to return to Afghanistan, Harry retrained and qualified as an Apache helicopter pilot.

In September 2012 he made it back for a second tour of duty as an Apache co-pilot gunner.

But he was criticised on his return to the UK for frank comments that he took the enemy “out of the game”, and soldiers “take a life to save a life”.

The Prince admitted at the time that he was more comfortable being Captain Wales than Prince Harry.

Gallipoli centenary commemorations
Prince Harry and his father the Prince of Wales in Turkey for the Gallipoli campaign centenary (Tristan Fewings/PA)

“I’ve always been like that. My father’s always trying to remind me about who I am and stuff like that,” he said. “But it’s very easy to forget about who I am when I am in the army.”

His career took a different direction when it was announced he was to start a new army staff officer role in London in 2014.

The post enabled him to launch his Paralympic-style competition for injured servicemen and women, the Invictus Games.

The successful inaugural event was held in London in 2014 and more than 450 competitors from 13 nations took part.

Meanwhile his decade-long Army career ended in 2015, as he pursued new ventures. He spent three months on wildlife conservation projects in Africa, and focused on his charities.

Harry – who had past long-term relationships with Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas – went to Toronto in May 2016 for an Invictus Games launch, and it was here he was initially thought to have first met Markle, who made her home in the Canadian city where Suits is filmed.

But the actress later revealed the pair met through friends in London in July 2016.

Soon after their relationship became public, the protective prince attacked the media over its “abuse and harassment” of his girlfriend.

Harry, whose mother was being pursued by the paparazzi when she died, ordered his communications secretary to issue an unprecedented statement.

It said Markle, who is mixed race, had experienced racism, sexism and a front page smear, and endured attempts by members of the press to get into her home.

In April 2017, as he promoted the Heads Together campaign, Harry revealed he sought counselling after two years of “total chaos” having spent nearly 20 years of “not thinking” about the death of his mother.

Heads Together campaign
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry promoting the Heads Together mental health campaign (The Royal Foundation)

Harry told the Daily Telegraph that dealing with grief in the public eye had led to him coming “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions”.

But he declared he was in a “good place” – and now with his wedding to Markle on the horizon, Harry will be ready for the next chapter in his life.

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