UK’s Prince Harry in Australia for army stint

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY PETER PARKS

Prince Harry re­ported for duty with the Aus­tralian Army on Mon­day to begin an “au­then­tic” ex­pe­ri­ence fea­tur­ing bush pa­trols and in­dige­nous en­gage­ment, as he pre­pares to re­tire from the United King­dom’s mil­i­tary.

Hun­dreds of well-wish­ers turned out to see the 30-year-old prince at the Na­tional War Me­mo­rial in Can­berra — the one sched­uled public event of his visit — be­fore he met with the head of the Aus­tralian De­fence Force (ADF), Air Chief Mar­shal Mark Bin­skin.

Wear­ing a white dress uni­form, he re­ported for duty at Dun­troon Mil­i­tary Col­lege, de­liv­er­ing a let­ter to Bin­skin from Queen El­iz­a­beth II in which she wrote her grand­son would “ben­e­fit greatly from spend­ing time with the Aus­tralian dig­gers.” As well as her role in the United King­dom, Queen El­iz­a­beth II is also the Queen of Australia and cer­e­mo­nial com­man­der-in-chief of the Aus­tralian De­fence Force.

Af­ter jet­ting in from Syd­ney, Prince Henry of Wales, as Harry is more for­mally known, ar­rived to cheers from the crowd of some 1,000 peo­ple at the war me­mo­rial in Can­berra. Af­ter his ar­rival, he laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Un­known Sol­dier and toured gal­leries on World War I and Afghanistan.

The en­er­getic royal then waved off the op­tion of an um­brella and spent time greet­ing the crowd out­side de­spite driz­zling rain.

As some chanted “Harry, Harry, Harry,” the prince made his way around the bar­ri­cades, and spoke to a gin­ger-haired child with a poster read­ing “Red­heads Rule.”

“He said that I was fab­u­lous in mak­ing the sign and it’s awe­some to be a red­head,” a de­lighted Ethan Toscan, 12, told Aus­tralian As­so­ci­ated Press.

“I’m over the moon — it’s just wow! I got to shake his hand!”

Dur­ing his time “Down Un­der,” Cap­tain Wales, as he is known in the Bri­tish Army, will be em­bed­ded with Aus­tralian army units and reg­i­ments in Syd­ney, Dar­win and Perth.

“He is ex­pected to take part in a range of unit-based ac­tiv­i­ties and train­ing ex­er­cises,” the Aus­tralian De­fence Force said in a state­ment an­nounc­ing his ar­rival last week.

“Th­ese will in­clude ur­ban train­ing ex­er­cises, re­gional bush pa­trols, flight sim­u­la­tion and avi­a­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, joint fire ex­er­cises and in­dige­nous en­gage­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.”

‘An au­then­tic mil­i­tary

ex­pe­ri­ence’

The prince, who has flown Apache he­li­copters for the UK, has re­port­edly also asked to fly chop­pers in Australia. A de­fense of­fi­cial has said checks would need to be car­ried out first.

Build­ing on Prince Harry’s in­ter­est in vet­er­ans af­fairs, op­por­tu­ni­ties to meet with wounded, in­jured and ill ser­vice per­son­nel will also be pro­vided while in Australia.

The Aus­tralian mil­i­tary said it hopes to pro­vide the prince with “an au­then­tic mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence in the Aus­tralian Army,” adding that it will in­clude rou­tine ac­tiv­i­ties, such as phys­i­cal train­ing, first aid train­ing and pack marches.

The Aus­tralian army at­tach­ment comes as Prince Harry, a grad­u­ate from the elite Sand­hurst mil­i­tary academy who served twice in Afghanistan, has an­nounced his de­par­ture from the Bri­tish Army.

“Af­ter a decade of ser­vice, mov­ing on from the army has been a re­ally tough de­ci­sion,” he said last month, re­veal­ing he will quit in June.

“The ex­pe­ri­ences I have had over the last 10 years will stay with me for the rest of my life. For that I will al­ways be hugely grate­ful.”

Harry earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a wild-child in his early 20s with his party-go­ing hi-jinks, but has since tried to carve out a more ma­ture role for him­self, with his de­vo­tion to mil­i­tary ser­vice play­ing a ma­jor part.

The prince will break his at­tach­ment to travel to Turkey later this month for the An­zac Day dawn ser­vice at Gal­lipoli, to mark the cen­te­nary since that World War I cam­paign.

AP

Prince Harry — whose grand­mother, El­iz­a­beth II, is Queen of Australia — reacts af­ter shak­ing hands with kids hold­ing up a sign read­ing “Red­heads Rule!” dur­ing a visit to the Aus­tralian War Me­mo­rial in Can­berra, Australia on Mon­day, April 6.

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