Prince Harry must come home to help hero pals, ex-head of British Army pleads
The former head of the Army has issued an extraordinary public plea for Prince Harry to return to the UK.
General Sir Richard Dannatt said veterans will lose out because of Harry’s decision to quit royal life and move to America with actress wife Meghan Markle.
Speaking to the Sunday People as he calls for a change in law to force coroners to record military suicides in a special category, he said he believed it was a shame the prince is no longer connected to armed forces charities that help injured or troubled veterans, including Help For Heroes and Walking with the Wounded.
The highly unusual intervention by the general who sent Harry, 36, to war in Afghanistan comes after fresh claims of a feud with his brother William.
And it follows criticism over his decision to lecture Britain about racism in a web call from his £11million California mansion.
General Dannatt said: “Harry and Meghan are very much involved in other things and that’s their life choice and I don’t criticise them for that.
“But it means that he is not as available, not supporting in such a high-profile fashion, the work of charities and the needs of veterans.
“I don’t criticise him for that, he makes his own choices, but we miss him and I hope that in a change of circumstances, that I can’t envisage, he returns to take up more traditional royal duties in this country.”
His words come after a new book by biographer Robert Lacey claimed other royals were “hopping mad” over Harry and Meghan’s plans to profit from their Sussex Royal brand.
Mr Lacey says Prince William was so incensed with his brother he refused to dine with him before the so-called Sandringham Summit in January to decide the Duke of Sussex’s future.
This week Harry raised eyebrows by discussing his racial “awakening” with Meghan, 39, and claiming the UK is structurally racist.
The appearance followed Harry signing a reported £112m deal to make programmes for TV giant Netflix.
General Dannatt, who sits as a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords, even resorted to writing to Harry asking him not to stay away from the country for too long.
“In my most recent letter, I expressed the hope that he would not stay away too long. The veterans, amongst others, need him,” he said.
General Dannatt got to know Harry when the prince was a junior officer in the Household Cavalry and Dannatt was head of the Army.
Back in 2007 the chief of the general staff masterminded a plan to get Harry deployed to Afghanistan.
The 69-year-old describes the prince as a “spirited young man who, like his mother, has a strongly compassionate aspect to his character”.
But General Dannatt said the tragic loss of his mother at a young age had a huge impact on Harry’s life and damaged his mental health.
He added of Harry’s first tour in Afghanistan as an air controller: “The experiences gained over that 10-week period made a deep impression on him and was key to his motivation to set up the Invictus Games and champion veterans’ causes.
“He and Prince William were a great support to Help for Heroes and later, Harry was a great support to Walking with the Wounded.
“Although his heart is still with veterans’ causes, he is now not well placed to continue that support, living in the USA.”
General Dannatt’s worry comes as the Sunday People’s Save Our Soldiers campaign calls for a radical overhaul of the handling of mental heath for servicemen and women and veterans.
More than 200 serving and former members of the armed services – mostly veterans of Aghanistan and Iraq – are feared to have taken their lives in the last two years.
Harry was in the thick of the fighting as an Army Air Corps co-pilot gunner in a second Afghan tour in 2012-13.
He is still involved in the Invictus Games but all the military appointments he was so proud of came to an end in March when he announced his and Meghan’s departure, dubbed Megxit.
These were: Captain General of the Royal Marines, Commodore-in-Chief of Small Ships and Diving, and Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington.
According to extracts from the book Battle of Brothers released yesterday, the Queen believed Harry and Meghan’s behaviour was erratic and impulsive.
And Buckingam Palace aides thought a self-pitying interview by Meghan with ITV last year was “miserably self-indulgent”, it is claimed.
And the book says Megxit negotiations were like dealing with a hard-nosed Hollywood lawyer.
Acclaimed author Mr Lacey, who was a consultant on Netflix drama The Crown, spent months speaking to royal insiders for the book, seen as an alternative to Harry and Meghan’s flattering memoir Finding Freedom.
Yesterday there was no comment from Harry about Mr Lacey’s claims.
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