Prince Harry seems to have made a sudden U-turn about how acts of service should be carried out, preaching that ‘service is what happens in the quiet… when people aren’t watching’ – just days after he and wife Meghan Markle were slammed for turning Remembrance Day into a ‘tasteless publicity stunt’.
While discussing the military and the impact of the pandemic at virtual veterans fundraiser Stand Up for Heroes, Harry, 36, claimed: ‘As far as I see it, service is what happens in the quiet and in the chaos. It’s what happens when people aren’t looking and it’s about how we take care of each other every single day.’
The Duke of Sussex‘s views on ‘quiet’ acts of service are very much at odds with the heavily-criticized photoshoot that he and Meghan, 39, arranged on Remembrance Sunday, when they visited a Los Angeles cemetery to lay flowers at the graves of fallen Commonwealth soldiers – a move that sparked outrage on both sides of the Atlantic.
Hypocrisy: Prince Harry has preached about ‘quiet’ acts of service – after sparking fury by staging a photoshoot with wife Meghan Markle on Remembrance Sunday
Before stepping down as a senior royal earlier this year, Harry marked Remembrance Day with a visit to the Cenotaph in London alongside many other members of the royal family, a tradition that he missed this year having moved to Los Angeles with Meghan and their son Archie in the spring.
This year however, the Duke was not present at the traditional ceremony, and is reported to have been left ‘deeply saddened’ after Buckingham Palace denied his request to have a wreath laid at the Cenotaph on his behalf.
Controversy: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to share images of the cemetery visit sparked backlash online, with some accusing them of turning it into a ‘publicity stunt’
Instead, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex laid flowers picked from their garden at the two Commonwealth gravestones at the Los Angeles National Cemetery – one for an Airman who had served in the Royal Australian Air Force and one for a soldier from the Royal Canadian Artillery.
The couple also placed a wreath at an obelisk in the cemetery that features a plaque inscribed ‘In Memory of the Men Who Offered Their Lives In Defence Of Their Country’.
Harry wore his service medals as he lay a wreath on which he wrote: ‘To all of those who have served, and are serving. Thank you.’
Meghan and Harry were slammed for arranging for celebrity fashion photographer Lee Morgan to capture their personal act of Remembrance, with many branding the visit as a ‘publicity stunt’.
DailyMail.com’stor-at-large Piers Morgan accused the couple of using it as a ‘PR opportunity’, writing on Twitter: ‘Just outrageous – treating Remembrance Sunday like a PR opportunity, & trying to steal headlines from the real royals doing their duty back home.’
Another Twitter user wrote: ‘There’s something really quite tasteless about Prince Harry and Meghan at a cemetery in California, with a photographer that just happened to be there, to make sure they can get in on the action too.’
However, Harry ignored the furious controversy surrounding his Remembrance Day shoot and instead spoke about the significant and lasting impact his time in the military – which included two frontline tours to Afghanistan – has had on his life.
‘[My military] experience changed my life forever and for the better,’ he said.
‘It changed how I viewed sacrifice and service. I was born into a life of duty, but it was during my decade in the army that I committed to a life of service.’
Despite quitting his job as a senior royal earlier this year – and in the process putting his many honorary military titles on hold – Harry reaffirmed his dedication to the armed forces in a recorded message for the comedy event, which raises money for US veterans.
The Duke said that the decade he spent serving in the military changed him for the better and made him who he is today, noting that it altered his life ‘forever and for the better’.
The father-of-one added that he will always be part of the military team, and paid tribute to those he met while serving.
‘My experience in the military made me who I am today – and it also connected me with some of the strongest, funniest and most memorable people I’ve ever met,’ he said.
‘Once we join this team, we are always part of this team. Once we’ve served, we are always serving, and proudly so.’
Harry and Meghan quit royal duties nearly nine months ago to pursue a life of personal and financial freedom in Los Angeles, where they now live in a $14.5 million mansion with their son, Archie.
The decision to leave his royal duties meant that the Duke’s honorary military titles – Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands’ Small Ships and Diving – were put on hold.
Harry is not allowed to take any particular role using those titles at present, but they have not yet been handed to other members of the royal family.
Prince Harry, 36, volunteered for a non-profit foundation providing COVID-19 response for veterans and their families, and at-risk communities in Compton last week
The royal cut a casual figure in denim jeans, a khaki polo top and cap, and could be seen donning a protective face mask
Taking to Instagram, another volunteer penned: ‘Today I had the honor of meeting and working alongside Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex’
His role will be examined in March as part of the monarchy’s 12-month review of the Sussexes’ departure arrangements.
The Stand Up For Heroes comedy event helps raise money for military veterans in the US.
Hosted by Jon Stewart, the annual fundraiser is presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival, and celebrities taking part include Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow and actor Ray Romano.
Harry, who set up the Invictus Games competition for injured servicemen and women in 2014, added: ‘I wanted to honor the legacy of these men and women who have given up so much – from time with family to birthdays missed and even births missed.
‘Some lost their limbs and others lost their lives. It’s for that reason that I created the Invictus Games – to give injured servicemen and women a platform to excel and reaffirm their values of resilience, of community and strength, which are inherent in each and every one of us.’
He also spoke of the challenges people have faced during the global pandemic, noting that he has been impressed and inspired by the ‘incredible resilience’ people have shown.
‘For the whole world, this year has been and continues to be incredibly hard,’ he said.
‘But we’ve also seen incredible resilience and purpose.’
Those close to Harry said he was not the sort of person to make a stunt out of a Remembrance event, particularly having known fellow service personnel who died.
Last week, he volunteered by helping to pack and distribute food parcels to military veterans and their families.