Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are now excitedly awaiting the arrival of their royal baby, with a due date forecast for later this month. However, before his marriage and stepping up to his more senior royal duties in support of the Queen, the Duke of Sussex dedicated ten years to his career in the Army. When he was deployed in Afghanistan he even won the title of “Top Gun” in homage to the Eighties blockbuster, a royal biographer reveals.
Katie Nicholl, in her 2018 biography “Harry: Life, Loss and Love”, recounts the prince’s tour of duty in 2012, when he was stationed at the massive Camp Bastion base.
Ms Nicholl writes: “While he hated being gawped at, he was thrilled to be back on the front line.
“It was an opportunity to show what he was really made of.
“Having been awarded the prize for best gunner, Harry was known as the ‘Top Gun’ among the 20 other copilots in his class.”
She explains: “His responsibilities varied, from escorting RAF Chinook and US Black Hawk helicopters on casualty evacuation missions, to target Taliban attackers on the ground.
“As a gunner it was Harry’s job to operate the Apache [helicopter’s] armoury of wing-mounted aerial rockets and missiles.
“He had a 30mm chain gun positioned directly under his seat.”
Press Association photographer John Stilwell, who was assigned to photograph Harry on the tour, told Ms Nicholl: “He was very pleased to be back on the front line.
“He said he was upset the first tour had been cut short and he was glad to be back.
“He pushed hard to get out there even though, I think, some people tried to talk him out of it, he was determined to go.”
Harry’s first tour of duty in 2008 had been cut short when the Australian press published details of where he was stationed.
He was quickly pulled off the front line and, according to Ms Nicholl, the experience left him feeling “broken”.