Prince Henry Charles Albert David, Duke of Sussex, known by his nickname Prince Harry, is sixth in line to the throne of Canada, the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms (born 15 September 1984 in London, United Kingdom). Prince Harry is a grandson of Her Majesty (HM) The Queen and her late husband, Prince Philip;); the younger son of the heir to the throne, HRH The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) and the late Diana, Princess of Wales; and younger brother of HRH The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William). Prince Harry is the founder of the Invictus Games, a series of athletic competitions for wounded, injured and sick armed forces personnel from around the world. The third Invictus Games were held in Toronto in September 2017. He is married to Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and has two children.
Harry was born on 15 September 1984 at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. Harry and his older brother, William, were the first generation of direct heirs to the throne to be born in a hospital rather than a palace. The newborn prince was christened Henry by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
At the time of Harry’s birth, there were already tensions in Charles and Diana’s marriage. Still, both parents were closely involved in the upbringing of their sons. In contrast to previous generations of British royal children, William and Harry sometimes accompanied their parents on overseas tours. In 1985, Harry left the United Kingdom for the first time, on an official visit to Italy with his parents and brother.
In December 1992, when Harry was eight years old, British prime minister John Major announced the amicable separation of Charles and Diana. On 20 December 1995, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II had sent letters advising the Prince and Princess of Wales to divorce. Following legislation passed during the reign of King George I, the Queen retained formal custody of her grandchildren, though both parents received equal time with their sons. Diana died in a car accident in Paris in 1997. At the funeral at London’s Westminster Abbey, 12-year-old Harry walked with other members of his family behind the coffin, which displayed his handwritten envelope addressed to “Mummy.”
In contrast to his father, Charles, who was tutored by a governess until he began his formal education at Hill House School at the age of eight, Harry followed his brother, William, to Mrs. Mynors’ nursery school in London at the age of three. In 1989, he began attending Wetherby School in London, followed by Ludgrove, a boarding school in Berkshire, in 1992. In 1998, Harry joined William at Eton College, near Windsor Castle, for his secondary education. At Eton, Harry became house captain of games and was a member of the school’s rugby, cricket and polo teams. He completed university qualifying examinations in art and geography before spending a year traveling in Australia, Argentina, Botswana and Lesotho.
Early Tours of Canada
Harry visited Canada twice during his childhood. In 1991, Charles and Diana toured Ontario, visiting Toronto, Sudbury, Niagara Falls, Kingston and Ottawa accompanied by nine-year-old William and seven-year-old Harry. Charles and Diana undertook separate itineraries that reflected their respective charities and interests, but the royal family appeared together on the yacht Britannia in Toronto harbour.
Harry returned to Canada with Charles and William in 1998 for a ski holiday in Whistler, British Columbia, where the three princes wore the red hats popularized by the Canadian Olympic team at the Winter Games that year in Nagano.
Military Training and Deployments
In 2005, Harry began his military career as an officer cadet at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and received his commission in the following year as a cornet (second lieutenant) in the Household Cavalry (Blues and Royals). In 2007, he trained at Canadian Forces Base Suffield near Medicine Hat, Alberta. Canadian news coverage at the time focused on his social life, but in 2013, one of Harry’s former squad mates, James Wharton, revealed that Harry had intervened on his behalf when Wharton faced a homophobic attack from a rival regiment in 2008.
Harry served on two tours of duty in Afghanistan (see War in Afghanistan). In 2007–08, he served as a forward air controller and was promoted to the position of lieutenant in the Household Cavalry at the time of his return. Following training as an Army Air Corps pilot and an 18-month Apache helicopter training course, Harry returned to Afghanistan in 2012–13 as an Apache attack helicopter pilot. Harry concluded his military career with a four-week placement in Sydney, Darwin and Perth, Australia, with the Australian Defence Force.
When he announced that he would be leaving the British Army in 2015, Harry stated, “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 became a counsellor of state in 2005, enabling him to undertake official duties on behalf of the Queen, such as attending Privy Council meetings. He has represented the Queen on a number of public occasions, including the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Following the London Olympics, Harry visited Brazil as an ambassador for British trade.
Also in 2012, Harry toured Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica, representing the Queen at the time of her Diamond Jubilee. Harry was well received throughout his tour. In Jamaica, he established a friendly rapport with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who had endorsed republicanism over constitutional monarchy in Jamaica.
As part of the royal family, whose members are under constant media scrutiny, Prince Harry has been the subject of a number of controversies. In early 2005, he was photographed dressed in a Nazi uniform and swastika arm band at a costume party. The 20-year-old prince issued a statement of apology for his “poor choice of costume.”In 2012, photographs of Harry partying naked at a Las Vegas hotel were released online to some scandal.
Harry’s romantic relationships have also attracted intense speculation from the media and public.In an interview conducted at the time of his 21st birthday in 2005, Harry discussed his then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy. She attended Harry’s graduation ceremony from an advanced helicopter training course and William’s wedding to Catherine Middleton in 2011. In 2012, Harry began a relationship with Cressida Bonas, a friend of his cousin Princess Eugenie. The couple separated in 2014. Both relationships were the subject of intense media interest.
In November 2016, Kensington Palace issued an unprecedented statement confirming Harry’s relationship with Meghan Markle, an American actress then residing in Toronto who is best known for her role in the television series Suits. The statement condemned the behaviour of the press, stating, “His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment.” Harry made private visits to Toronto and journalists watched Markle’s home, hoping for a sighting of the couple. In November 2017, the royal family announced that Harry and Meghan Markle were engaged to be married.
The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry serves as the main vehicle for philanthropic activities by Harry, his brother, William, and his sister-in-law Catherine. The foundation currently has three areas of focus: promoting the welfare of members and veterans of the armed forces, helping young people build confidence and vocational training, and supporting communities in conserving and protecting their natural resources.
In 2006, Harry co-founded Sentebale with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, a charity devoted to helping vulnerable children in Lesotho, particularly those orphaned due to HIV and AIDS. Harry was inspired by Diana’s pioneering work with HIV and AIDS patients and his own travels in Lesotho during his gap year in 2004. During that time, he created a documentary, The Forgotten Kingdom, about the plight of children suffering from HIV/AIDS in Lesotho.
In 2013, Harry became the first member of the royal family to trek to the South Pole. He made the Antarctic trek with one of three teams of wounded service personnel in support of Walking with the Wounded, an organization that provides veterans with support in finding employment after leaving the armed forces.
In 2014, as a staff officer at the army’s London District headquarters, Harry launched the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick armed service members and veterans. The word invictus means“ unconquered” in Latin. Harry was inspired by his experiences in Afghanistan and the Department of Defense Warrior Games in the United States, an athletic competition for “wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans.”
The inaugural 2014 Invictus Games took place in London with 400 competitors from 13 nations competing in nine sports. The second Invictus Games took place in Orlando, Florida, in 2016. Prior to the Orlando Games, Harry visited Toronto, host of the 2017 Invictus Games. In Toronto, he attended a demonstration sledge hockey match at the former Maple Leaf Gardens, along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Toronto mayor John Tory. The Toronto Games were organized to include at least 600 competitors from 16 nations in 12 sporting events.
Harry explained that for participants in the Invictus Games, “Sport has been the vehicle for their recovery, allowing them to channel their passion into what can be achieved rather than what can't. No longer are these inspirational men and women defined by their injury but as athletes, competitors and team mates.”
2017 Invictus Games in Toronto
Prince Harry spent nine days in Toronto in September 2017 when he attended the Invictus Games. Harry’s program of engagements began on September 22, when he met with athletes and attended training events. On September 23, he visited the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and met with researchers and patients. Harry also met with Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Royal York hotel prior to the opening ceremonies that evening.
Harry attended numerous events during the games, including archery, wheelchair tennis, rowing and wheelchair basketball. He also met the public during walkabouts, including an appearance outside the CN Tower.
Prince Harry’s attendance at the Invictus Games attracted widespread media attention, in large part because he made his first official public appearance with girlfriend Meghan Markle. Harry and Markle attended the opening ceremonies, although they were seated separately. However, they arrived together at the wheelchair tennis event in Nathan Phillips Square and watched the event side by side. Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland, attended the closing ceremonies on September 30. Markle’s presence at the Invictus Games with Harry fuelled popular speculation of an imminent royal engagement (their engagement was later announced in November 2017).
At the closing ceremonies, Harry praised Toronto in his official speech, stating, “You have delivered the biggest Invictus Games yet, with the most incredible atmosphere, making our competitors feel like the stars they are.” Canadians admired Prince Harry for his rapport with the public, especially children.
Prince Harry married Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, on 19 May 2018. On his wedding day, Prince Harry received the titles of Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Harry’s brother, William, served as best man, with both wearing the frock coat uniform of the Blues and Royals regiment. The wedding party included 10 bridesmaids and page boys, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the two older children of William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Brian, John and Ivy Mulroney, three of the grandchildren of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The Prince of Wales walked Meghan down the aisle. Meghan wore a silk Givenchy dress with Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara and a veil embroidered with floral symbols from all 53 Commonwealth nations. Canada was represented by the bunchberry (Cornus canadensis).
The wedding of Harry and Meghan was the eighth royal wedding to be televised, and an estimated audience of more than two billion people around the world watched the event. The sermon was preached by Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.
Harry and Meghan did not leave for their honeymoon immediately but instead commenced royal duties as a married couple, beginning with a garden party at Buckingham Palace that honoured the Prince of Wales’ charitable patronages during his 70th birthday year. The royal couple reside at Nottingham Cottage, Kensington Palace, in London.
Birth of First Child
On 15 October 2018, Kensington Palace announced that the couple was expecting the birth of their first child in spring 2019. On 6 May 2019, Meghan gave birth to a boy, whom the couple named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. They chose not to use a title for their son, who will simply be known as Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
Stepping Back from Royal Duties
Harry and Meghan celebrated Christmas in Canada in 2019. They released a statement on 20 December: “The decision to base themselves in Canada reflects the importance of this Commonwealth country to them both… They are enjoying sharing the warmth of the Canadian people and the beauty of the landscape with their young son.” They returned to the United Kingdom in January 2020 and visited Canada House in London to thank Canadians for their hospitality over the holidays.
On 8 January 2020, Harry and Meghan issued a statement on their Instagram page, in which they announced “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” along with their plans to divide their time between the United Kingdom and North America. They returned to Canada the next day and lived in a secluded mansion on Vancouver Island. This statement and their return to Canada attracted widespread media coverage concerning their future plans and security arrangements. On 18 January, the Queen issued a statement expressing personal support for her grandson. She also issued an official statement explaining that Harry and Meghan would no longer use their HRH titles, be required to step back from royal duties, including official military appointments, and no longer receive public funds for royal duties.
On 19 January 2020, Harry spoke about his departure at a Sentebale charity dinner in London: “Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible.” Harry remains president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and retains charitable patronages, including the Invictus Games. Harry and Meghan attended the 2020 Commonwealth Day service with the royal family at Westminster Abbey in London on 9 March. Later that month, Harry, Meghan and Archie moved to Los Angeles, California.
Less than a year later, the situation had changed. In mid-February 2021, Harry and Meghan announced that they were expecting their second child. Shortly after, American broadcaster CBS announced that the couple had been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and that the conversation would air on 7 March.
On 19 February, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Meghan and Harry would not return as working members of the royal family and would surrender their royal patronages. These positions included Harry’s patronage of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League. He would, however, keep some private patronages, including the Invictus Games. Harry would also lose his honorary military titles as Captain General of the Royal Marines; Commodore-in-Chief, Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving; and Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington.
Interview with Oprah Winfrey
The couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey aired on American television on 7 March 2021 and in Britain the following day. In the wide-ranging conversation, Meghan revealed her sense of isolation and her struggles with mental health. Prince Harry criticized the royal family for not doing more to support them, particularly against racist coverage of Meghan in the British media. According to the couple, the behaviour of the British press and the perceived absence of support from the royal family played an important role in their decision to step back from royal duties. Both Harry and Meghan told Winfrey they had a strong personal relationship with the Queen. However, Harry stated that his relationship with his father, Charles, and brother, William, had become strained.
Birth of Second Child
Harry and Meghan’s second child, Lilibet "Lili" Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, was born in California on 4 June 2021. The couple named their daughter after the Queen, whose nickname in the royal family is “Lilibet,” and Prince Harry’s late mother, Diana.