Photo via Flickr/Eva Rinaldi
In a recent piece on the Huffington Post, James Wharton, author of Out in the Army: My Life as a Gay Soldier, marked Prince Harry's retirement from the military with a tribute to his legacy. Commander Henry Wales, as he is known in the military, joined the British Army in 2005, eventually working his way up to Apache Aircraft Commander. He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, first in 2008, and then again in 2012. The Prince has said that he plans to devote his free time now to his AIDS work, his charities, and helping wounded soldiers.
In the piece, Wharton recounts what he referred to as "the most important moment I will remember personally"--the time Harry defended him from an anti-gay attack:
"The time the Prince stepped in and told a group of very unhappy soldiers to 'back the f**k off' and leave me alone. This was following on from an incident which had occurred the evening before during which I had got a little close to a soldier from another regiment whilst drinking in the bar. The morning Harry had to come to my rescue, word had got round among the other regiment about what had happened between me and one of their own, and a group of angry sergeants wanted my blood--because to them, I was obviously to blame. Harry caught wind of the situation and confronted the older non commissioned officers, and made, quite clear, that they would be for the high jump if they gave me another second's hassle over the issue--my sexuality."
"I remember watching him put these much older, much more experienced soldiers firmly in their place and the group walked away, visibly, with their tails between their legs. He returned to me and said, unassumingly, 'you won't hear from that lot again'"
Overally, Wharton remembers Prince Harry's legacy as follows:
"He joined us, he immersed himself in our community, he learned from us and then taught us, he led us and will always now stick up for us. Essentially, he got us - and we got him. He'll champion the army for the rest of his life."
Read the full interview on Huffington Post.