Prince Henry of Wales, the second son of Charles Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, the daughter of John, Earl Spencer, was born on 15 September, 1984, at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, West London. He was baptized with the names Henry Charles Albert David at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, though is always known as simply Harry.
A red haired and decidedly impish featured little boy, Harry followed in the footsteps of his elder brother, Prince William in attending Mrs. Mynor's Nursery School in London and later Wetherby and Ludgrove Schools. His mother was determined that both her young sons should have as normal a life as possible and accordingly often took them on outings to amusement parks and the cinema, always unfortunately, with the attendant flock of photographers in her wake.
Harry was only twelve, when in 1997, his beloved mother died in tragic circumstances in a Paris car crash. This bereavement affected him acutely. Along with his father and brother, he was staying at Balmoral, his grandmother the Queen's Scottish home, at the time. He emerged with the rest of the royal family, pale and visibly shaken, clutching his father by the hand, to view the bouquets and messages of sympathy that wellwishers had left outside Balmoral in tribute to Diana.
Both Diana's sons played an active part in the funeral, walking behind their mother's cortege to Westminster Abbey, the young Harry carried out what must have been a deeply distressing and gruelling duty, before a vast worldwide audience, with dignity and composure. An agreement was later reached with the press that the paparazzi would not hound Diana's two sons during the rest of their school years.
In October, 1997, his father took Harry on an eight day tour of South Africa, where he went on safari as well as meeting Nelson Mandela and the Spice Girls. In a conciliatory gesture, (the two families were estranged) he was also taken to see his maternal uncle, Earl Spencer, then residing in South Africa.
Harry joined his brother William at Eton College in September, 1998, though known to be not as academic as his brother, he is also less serious and has acquired a reputation as a daredevil with a puckish sense of humour. Like his brother, he is tall (6' 2") but has the red hair of the Spencer family. He is a keen skier and likes to attend rugby matches.
Prince Harry has suffered more at the hands of the press than his brother William, who generally keeps a low profile. In January, 2002, Harry hit the headlines after his father, having discovered he had experimented with cannabis, decided he would benefit from a short, sharp shock and sent him to Featherstone Lodge Rehabilitation Centre in Peckham, London, for a day, to see the dangers of drugs for himself. Much to his mortification, the story was leaked to the press, but a contrite Harry seemed to have learned a lesson in this respect.
His troubles with the press were far from over, however, and he evoked further press criticism by attending a friend's fancy dress party in a nazi uniform, the timing of the incident could not have been worse, as it occurred just after the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. He later apologised if he had offended anyone. The adverse publicity continued when, much the worse for drink, he was engaged in an undignified and angry scuffle with a photographer outside a London nightclub and had to be pulled away by his bodyguard.
On his eighteenth birthday, in September, 2002, his grandmother, Elizabeth II gave Harry his own coat-of-arms, along with the arms of England, at Harry's request, it incorporates three red Spencer escallops, in honour of his mother, as a coming of age present. He spent his birthday carrying out official engagements, which he announced were to remind people of all the good works his mother did.
Harry left Eton in 2003, having acquired two A levels, a B grade in Art and a D in Geography. He was later accused of cheating in his art examination, evoking further negative press attention. He spent part of his gap year in Australia, where he worked as a ranch hand on a cattle station and was a well liked member of the team. Some of the year was spent in Africa, where he worked in an orphanage in Lesotho, which became the subject of a television film, 'The forgotten Kingdom-Prince Harry in Lesotho' which helped raise awareness of the country's many problems.
On his twenty first birthday Harry gave a contrite interview, In response to press criticism he responded " I am who I am and I'm not going to change." Questioned about his conflicting images as a party prince and a caring one, he replied " I am both of them." Harry's steady girlfriend is Chelsy Davy, an attractive blonde who he describes as "amazing". She is the daughter of the wealthy Charles Davy, who is contraversially linked to Robert Magabe, dictator of Zimbabwe.
Prince Harry, currently third in line to the throne, entered Sandhurst Military Academy to begin training as an officer in the army in May, 2005.
He recently returned to Lesotho, founding the charity Sentebale to support children orphaned by aids - a cause which was once spearheaded by Diana, Princess of Wales. The charity was founded in memory of his mother, its name means forget me not, about which the prince has commented " I wanted to carry on as best I could what she started and what better place to do it than here?". He stated that he hoped his mother would be proud adding " It would be weird not to come back. I am commited for the rest of my life."
On 12 April 2006, Harry became a commissioned army officer and joined the Household Cavalry.
To celebrate the life of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, Harry, and his elder brother William, organized the Concert for Diana, which was held at Wembley Stadium on 1 July, 2007, on what would have been the Princess' 46th birthday, as well as a memorial service to mark the tenth anniversary of her death on 31st August, 2007 at the Guard's Chapel.
The concert, featuring a host of stars including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Duran Duran and Joss Stone, was a great success, about 60,000 people attended the event, while around 15 million people from across the UK watched Concert for Diana at home, and it was broadcast to over 500 million homes in 140 countries. Profits from the concert were donated to three charities Sentebale, Centrepoint and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.
Prince Harry spoke of his late mother with obvious affection at the simple and poignant memorial service, stating:-
"When she was alive we completely took for granted her unrivalled love of life, laughter, fun and folly. She was our guardian, friend and protector. She never once allowed her unfaltering love for us to go unspoken or undemonstrated. She will always be remembered for her amazing public work. But behind the media glare, to us, just two loving children, she was quite simply the best mother in the world. We would say that wouldn't we. But we miss her. She kissed us last thing at night. Her beaming smile greeted us from school. She laughed hysterically and uncontrollably when sharing something silly she might have said or done that day. She encouraged us when we were nervous or unsure. "
It was revealed in February, 2008, that Prince Harry had been fighting with British forces in the frontline in Afghanistan for the past 3 months, the Prince, a second lieutenant in the Household cavalry, patrolled in the Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, since mid December and called in a number of air strikes in his role commanding a tactical air control unit. Harry's deployment was kept secret due to a Ministry of Defence agreement with news organisations. General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of General Staff stated "His conduct on operations in Afghanistan has been exemplary. He has been fully involved in operations and has run the same risks as everyone else in his battle group." He added "Now that the story is in the public domain, the Chief of Defence Staff and I will take advice from the operational commanders about whether his deployment can continue."
In an interview conducted in Afghanistan Harry commented on his duties saying "This is what it is all about, what it's all about is being here with the guys rather than being in a room with a bunch of officers... " adding "I haven't really had a shower for four days, I haven't washed my clothes for a week. It's very nice to be a normal person for once, I think this is about as normal as I'm ever going to get." A spokesman for the Prince of Wales said "Prince Harry is very proud to serve his country on operations alongside his fellow soldiers."