Europe

Prince Harry wades in on UK politics as Duke issues stunning visa plea

Prince Harry and Meghan attend veterans gala in New York

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Conservative former minister Johnny Mercer said he spoke to the Duke of Sussex about the issue last night. Moving an amendment proposing the change, Mr Mercer told the House of Commons: “I speak to all sorts of people in the veterans community – last night I had a conversation with Prince Harry about this.

“He has contributed hugely to the veterans debate and I wanted his view.

“He said to me it’s not only morally right but would mean so much to those who have given so much – and it’s not a political intervention, it is the moral purpose of this.

“It’s an almost effortless change, as he said, for this Government to make for us to finally see through what we’ve said for these people for so long because we owe it to them.

“They’re our brothers and sisters, they’ve served with us over many, many years.”

Mr Mercer, who is an Army veteran, is pushing for the Government to waive visa fees for foreign citizens who served in the military and want to remain in the UK.

Visas for foreigners who served in UK armed forces currently cost £2,389.

Mr Mercer has put forward the amendment to the Immigration and Borders Bill with Labour MP Dan Jarvis, who is also an Army veteran.

The Duke of Sussex spent 10 years in the Army and served on the front line in Afghanistan.

He also founded the Invictus Games for wounded and injured service members and veterans in 2014.

Harry has spoken of how his life was shaped by his time in the Army.

However, he lost his honorary military titles after quitting royal duties with Meghan Markle.

The Sussexes are starting new lives in California after stepping back as senior royals in March 2020.

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Harry marked Veterans Day in the US last month by meeting with service members and their partners at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey with Meghan.

And on the eve of Veterans Day, which is Armistice Day in the UK, the couple attended the 2021 Salute to Freedom gala.

Addressing veterans at the event, Harry said: “As we honour and reflect on Remembrance Day in the UK, which shares a date tomorrow with Veterans Day here in the US, my hope is for all of us to continue to support the wellbeing, and recognise the value of, our troops, veterans, and the entire military and service family. We and they are better for it.

“I served 10 years in the military, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan – one as an FAC (Forward Air Controller) on the ground and in the dust with some of you, another as an Apache helicopter pilot in the air supporting and talking with you.

“Nothing was more valuable than the time I got to spend with my soldiers in a shell scrape, eating an MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) in the back of a tank, thanks for the swaps, flying a mission overhead knowing those below were safer, or making each other laugh when it was needed the most.

“My experience in the military made me who I am today, and I will always be grateful for the people I got to serve with – wherever in the world we were.”

Harry’s support for Mr Mercer’s move comes after Meghan recently contacted US politicians to lobby for paid family leave.

And the couple faced accusations they were interfering in American politics ahead of the presidential election last year.

Harry urged US citizens to “reject hate speech” and cast their vote.

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