Britain's Prince Harry in Australia for army stint

Britain's Prince Harry in Australia for army stint
Prince Harry stands with high-ranking officers of the Australian Defence Force at Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra.

SYDNEY - Prince Harry reported for duty in Canberra on Monday for a month with the Australian Army during which he will take part in bush patrols and possibly fly helicopters, as he prepares to retire from the British military.

Hundreds of well-wishers turned out to see the 30-year-old prince at the National War Memorial in Canberra - the one scheduled public event of his visit - before he met with the head of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin.

"Prince Harry is tremendously looking forward to starting his four-week attachment with the ADF," a spokesman for the prince told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

After jetting into Canberra, via Sydney, Prince Harry arrived to cheers at the war memorial where he laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

As the Last Post played, he saluted the tomb and observed a minute's silence before a tour through galleries on World War I and Afghanistan, where the prince has served with British forces.

The energetic royal then spent time greeting the crowd outside, some of whom had waited for hours.

As some chanted " Harry, Harry, Harry" to get his attention, the prince made his way around the barricades, including to speak with a child who had a home-made poster reading "Redheads Rule".

During his time Down Under, Captain Wales, as he is known in the British Army, will be embedded with Australian army units and regiments in Sydney, Darwin and Perth.

"He is expected to take part in a range of unit-based activities and training exercises," the Australian Defence Force said in a statement announcing his arrival last week.

"These will include urban training exercises, regional bush patrols, flight simulation and aviation activities, joint fire exercises and indigenous engagement activities."

'An authentic military experience'

The prince, who has flown Apache helicopters for Britain, has reportedly also asked to fly choppers in Australia, although his exact schedule has not been released.

A Defence Force spokesman said the credentials of the prince, who will become fifth in line to the throne upon the birth of his brother Prince William's second child, would need to be checked first.

Building on Prince Harry's interest in veterans affairs, opportunities to meet with wounded, injured and ill service personnel will also be provided while in Australia.

The Australian military said it hopes to provide the prince with "an authentic military experience in the Australian Army", adding that it will include routine activities, such as physical training, first aid training and pack marches.

The Australian army attachment comes as Prince Harry, a graduate from the elite Sandhurst military academy who served twice in Afghanistan, has announced his departure from the British Army.

"After a decade of service, moving on from the army has been a really tough decision," he said last month, revealing he will quit in June.

"The experiences I have had over the last 10 years will stay with me for the rest of my life. For that I will always be hugely grateful."

Harry earned a reputation as a wild-child in his early 20s with his party-going high jinks, but has since tried to carve out a more mature role for himself, with his devotion to military service playing a major part.

The prince will break his attachment to travel to Turkey later this month for the Anzac Day dawn service at Gallipoli, to mark the centenary since that World War I campaign.

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