‘Harry, the Soldier Prince’,By Dele Agekameh

agekameh 600Almost all the major international network news stations are still engrossed in the celebration of the new royal baby, George Alexander Louis. He is to be known as His Royal Highness, Prince George of Cambridge. The frenzy and wide coverage of his birth reminded me of a mini-documentary sometimes ago on the charming Prince Harry Williams, the proud father of the baby who is now third in line to the British throne. The documentary, which was aired on Cable News Network, CNN, was titled: “Royal Watchers; Harry, the Soldier Prince”.
The documentary was on Prince Harry and his numerous engagements. Starting from when he was a baby, the documentary ran through the death of Diana (his mother), his sojourn in the British Army, his diplomatic engagements within Britain and other places, his deployment to Afghanistan for military duties and all that.
Throughout the period the stuff lasted, I stayed glued to the TV set watching the moving
and captivating scenes. During the burial of his mother, Harry exuded the confidence unexpected of a lad at his age. He was composed, calm and devoid of any trace of emotional distraction, as he followed the hearse bearing the body of his mother in an ornamental casket adorned with a bouquet of flowers.
As a cadet in the elite Sandhurst Military Academy, Harry was a beautiful sight to behold in his trimmed and well-fitted military uniform. His squad mates who were intermittently interviewed described him as a young officer who responded well to training and military discipline. He was said to mix freely and devoid of the opulence of royalty. Every now and then, he was seen in the video clips either marching side by side with his mates or engaged in one military exercise or another.
When he was deployed to the battle front in Afghanistan, he was seen flying a combat
helicopter along with some of his colleagues. Again, he was shown on foot patrol in full combat gear. The scene then changed from Southern Afghanistan to the northern part of the country, where he went on patrol with the armoured unit stationed there.
The highlight of that patrol was when his team spotted an IED (Improvised Explosive
Device) on their route. The tank came to a halt as Harry got in touch with the bomb disposal unit which mobilised and promptly arrived at the scene in a Tomahawk helicopter. On the approach of the helicopter, Harry had thrown out a fire cracker from the tank, ostensibly to pinpoint the area where the device was buried. This was to prevent the helicopter from landing right on top of the IED, which could spell doom. In a few minutes, the device was detonated and Harry and his team continued their patrol.
Those who call themselves royal bloods in this part of the world only have passion to acquire wealth, exhibit outlandish lifestyles, acquire expensive wardrobes, show off crazy limousines and all the rest.
The scenes of his diplomatic shuttles include when he represented his maternal grandmother, the Queen, in Jamaica, Haiti, Canada and the rest. Here, he exhibited the statesman in him to the delight of his numerous hosts and the Queen. Everywhere, he went, he distinguished himself as someone who had the passion to mix freely with children and the downtrodden, shaking their hands, hugging them when necessary and sharing chocolates and drinks with them.
Of course, his wedding that shook Britain was also well advertised. From Harry, the considerate lover who became a teacher and role model for his wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, to Kate herself who, within a few months, rose to become Britain’s fashion ambassador. In one of the clips, some of the dresses and shoes she wore on some of her engagements became widely sought after as scores of people invaded the shops and emptied them from the shelves as soon as they saw her wear them.
On a visit to Hollywood in California, Harry and Kate were the cynosure of the crowd
that lined the routes they took. Not even the well-known actors and actresses that graced the event received the sort of attention and loud ovation that Harry and his heartthrob were bestowed on by the ecstatic crowd. The crowd also carried several placards, one of which read: “Harry and Kate: All we want is a wave”. That underscores the degree of excitement and warmth displayed by the crowd towards Harry and Kate.
But by far, the most compelling part of the episode which sent cold shivers down my
spines was the visit by Harry to Lesotho, a tiny country located on the southern fringes of Africa where he spent two months in an African jungle among the blacks. What was really astonishing in this part of the entire documentary was that he spent the whole two months attending to and caring for AIDS sufferers who form a large proportion of the population. In a brief interview, he expressed optimism that the problems bedeviling the population would be tackled. But he said it was not something that could be done in two or three years. This means that it was going to be a long distance race, especially when he was told that the greatest danger was the primitive belief among the people that “once an AIDS sufferer goes to bed with a minor, the disease could be cured instantly”.
In his parting remarks there, Harry promised to get back to the country at least twice in a year, “if his military duties would allow him.” That statement underscores his commitment to assist the poor, a deep sense of empathy with their plight as well as discipline as a military officer who does not want his royal background to interfere with his normal life. It would be recalled that the late Diana, Harry’s mother, was involved in many shuttles to the neglected
parts of Africa, Asia and other Third World countries where she offered succour and compassion for the poor during her eventful life time.
As I watched the documentary from start to finish, something struck me. Here was Harry born with the proverbial silver spoon, raised in royalty yet had passion, compassion and empathy for the dregs of the earth. I remember a time in the past when he was shown in some British newspapers sleeping on the bare floor, in chilling winter cold with a Nigerian youth, his companion. At that time, all he wanted was to experience the life of the homeless tramps in the society who have nowhere to rest their heads.
The irony of it all is that such display of commonality, as exhibited by Harry, is, to say the least, alien to us in this clime and perhaps, in Africa in general. Those who call themselves royal bloods in this part of the world only have passion to acquire wealth, exhibit outlandish lifestyles, acquire expensive wardrobes, show off crazy limousines and all the rest.
If you look around, when such spoilt children take over their families’ businesses, they easily run them aground. They are lawless, disrespectful, arrogant and lazy. In most cases, they grow up without any good idea of life except to keep on partying, frolicking in night clubs, drug addiction and all other despicable engagements. By and large, Harry’s documentary is a study in humility, the type that is rarely seen in this part of the universe.
Now that he is a father. It is expected that Harry will devote more time to his family, wife and the new baby. The British Royal Household has an enduring legacy of good upbringing, care and affection. And they are revered all over the place.
The other day at an Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, EO, Forum in London, we had the privilege of having dinner right at the British Royal Museum. It was a delightful sight to behold, with various royal ornaments dating back to centuries on display. The highlight of the night was the ceremonial locking of the Queen’s gate at Buckingham Palace. It was such a treasured memory that will linger in the participants’ sub-consciousness for a long time to come. Such is the royalty and regality associated with the British monarchy which Harry and George, his son, third in line to the British throne, are expected to preserve!

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