It’s a bittersweet moment for royal watchers and his colleagues alike, but the day has come for Prince Harry to say his farewells and move on after 10 years in the British Army.
Kensington Palace has announced that the fifth-in-line has finished his career with the Army and is spending the next three months in Africa, carrying out voluntary work with conservation experts.
He will travel to Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Botswana, reports the BBC, and will be involved in “front-line conservation projects”, having developed a programme with conservation experts, including those from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
There he will learn about environmental education programmes as well as working “at the sharp end of wildlife protection”, joining rangers who work to stop poaching attacks on elephants and rhino, and spending time with vets.
“After this period, Prince Harry will be one of the best-informed ambassadors for the conservation community on what is really happening on the ground in Africa. His experience will be of great value”, said Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation programmes at ZSL.
Harry has promised to keep work with military personnel in the Commonwealth as a “permanent feature” of his royal and charitable duties – in September he will volunteering with a London Personnel Recovery Unit, to assist wounded soldiers with rehabilitation.
A statement from Kensington Palace said, “The prince has had a fulfilling military career and considers it a huge honour to have served his country in the armed forces, during which time he has undertaken two operational tours of duty in Afghanistan, qualified as an Apache Aircraft Commander, spearheaded the Invictus Games and – most recently – undertaken an attachment with the Australian Defence Force”.
It was announced in February that he would be leaving the Army.
And although Harry wasn’t there for his last official day on Thursday, he will hold a formal farewell meeting with his commanding officer later in the year.
When asked about his time in the Army and why he decided to leave, he said: “I did it because since I was a kid I enjoyed wearing the combats, I enjoyed running around with a rifle, jumping in a ditch and living in the rain, and stuff.
“But then when I grew up, it became more than that, it became an opportunity for me to escape the limelight.
“I’ve had an epic 10 years, I’ve had great fun. The Army keep giving me great jobs, and I can never thank them enough for that.”
He also said it had been a difficult decision to leave and that he dreaded to think where he would have been without the experience.
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