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Prince Harry’s dedication to veterans charity unwavering amid loss of military titles

Prince Harry: Expert on royal saying 'goodbye' to military

It was revealed this week by Daily Express royal correspondent Richard Palmer that Harry will not be getting back his three military patronages and that he is “clearly unhappy” about it. Harry was stripped of his roles including Captain General of the Royal Marines, Commodore-in-Chief of Small Ships and Diving with the Royal Navy and Honorary Air Commodore at RAF Honington when he stepped down last year. They have remained vacant since March, but will each be taken over by one of the remaining senior royals this year.

Mr Palmer said: “Harry is clearly unhappy about losing his military patronages, but there’s no sign of any change on that.

“His military patronages are expected to be given to other members of the family later in 2021.

“Announcements are likely to be dribbled out rather than made on March 31.”

Having served in the Army for 10 years himself, supporting the military and veterans is very important to the Duke of Sussex.

Arguably his biggest achievement to date is the Invictus Games, an international adaptive multi-sport event, similar to the Paralympics, in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans take part in nine sports such as wheelchair basketball and indoor rowing.

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Harry has also supported veterans charity Walking with the Wounded, by acting as patron of numerous challenging expeditions, which raise money and awareness for the charity.

Walking with the Wounded provides mental health and employment support to former servicemen and women struggling with the transition to civilian life.

The Duke of Sussex is the patron of the charity’s latest endeavour, the Walk of Oman, which will see six armed forces veterans making a 400km journey across the desert, carrying 300kg of supplies.

The charity’s CEO Ed Parker told Express.co.uk that Harry has been with them since their very first expedition and continues to offer his support post-Megxiit.

He said: “From my perspective, he’s agreed to be the patron of this expedition, so our focus remains on that.

“Every time we’ve invited him to be patron of one of our expeditions, he’s generously agreed to be so, so as far as I’m concerned there’s been no change in his relationship with our organisation over the whole ten years.”

This flies in the face of accusations that Harry has abandoned his patronages by moving to California and pursuing his interests there along with his wife Meghan Markle.

While the Sussexes have dropped their HRH and military titles, they have stayed on as patrons of multiple charities, but there has been much speculation that the royal couple will find it difficult to fulfil their duties from across the Atlantic, especially as they are busy with new projects like Archewell.

However, Mr Parker’s words indicate that Harry is still dedicated to the charities he is already a part of.

The charity CEO insisted it was business as usual for Walking with the Wounded, despite Megxit.

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The Walk of Oman, which was originally set to be from November 20 to December 11 2020, has been rescheduled to February 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, Harry raised awareness for the trip in a video from his California home.

He said: “At the end of this year, a year that has seen unprecedented global challenges, a group of veterans will be tackling a challenge unlike anything they’ve done before.

“In just 21 days they will be trekking 400km across Oman, including part of the world’s largest sand desert.

“Facing searing temperatures and pulling a cart that weighs more than three times their own body weight, these veterans will need to summon incredible physical and mental strength.

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“For more than a decade, Walking with the Wounded has supported veterans who have faced physical or mental injuries, all who have been socially disadvantaged because of their service.

“I am proud to once again support them and support the veterans whose determination, courage and resilience is a credit to all of us who have served.

“To the men and women selected for this team, good luck. I know people all over the world will be cheering you on.”

Walking with the Wounded started back in 2010 with what was originally going to be a one-off trip to the North Pole.

When its founder and CEO invited Harry to come with them, he accepted and that changed everything.

Mr Parker told Express.co.uk: “I invited him to join us in walking to the North Pole, which clearly changed the dynamics of the visibility.

“What he brought with him was focus and attention and the media, but also his ability to ‒ as he was then a serving soldier ‒ to articulate very clearly the support he had for other men and women who were serving or had served.

“And he is very passionate about his links to the military, so it gave us a hugely increased visibility.”

He added: “We evolved from the expedition, because the first thing we did was we went to the North Pole and it was supposed to be a one-off, just walk to the North Pole, make some noise and raise some money and go away.

“But with Prince Harry becoming involved as he did, that rather changed the dynamics of everything.

“So, subsequent to that, with the money we’ve raised and the profile we’ve managed to achieve, we found a niche in the military charities sector that is very much in the complex area of need and so we support those who have really struggled with the transition, they have multiple needs.”

After the North Pole trip, they climbed Mount Everest, went to the South Pole ‒ which Harry also joined them on ‒ and did the Walk of Britain, the Walk of America, and now the Walk of Oman.

Dave Adams, a veteran taking part in the Walk of Oman, said: “Knowing the support comes from [Harry’s] level is unsurpassed.

“It means that you’re not fighting a battle without people behind you; that’s something that is very, very valuable to us.

“Certainly, I think from my perspective, he’s one of the blokes, he’s one of the guys, he’s been out to theatre a number of times, so it’s having someone who knows what you’re going through as the top level of support is invaluable.”

Walking with the Wounded is also partnered with the Invictus Games, which Harry remains dedicated to, and another of the veterans taking part in the Walk of Oman, Andy Phillips, is a former Games competitor.

The Games were first held in London in 2014, followed by Orlando in 2016, Toronto in 2017 and Sydney in 2018.

They were due to be held in The Hague last year, but have been rescheduled to start on May 29 this year.

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