Britain’s Prince Harry is known around the world as the fun-loving royal but a series of appearances and a prestigious honor today in Washington, D.C., will give Harry a chance to show his more serious side.
The 27-year-old prince will share the stage with the likes of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a glittering gala tonight to accept the 2012 Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership from the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.
Harry, himself an Afghanistan veteran, will accept the award on behalf of his older brother, Prince William, for the work the pair do with military-focused charities such as Walking With the Wounded, a British charity that retrains and re-educates veterans, and Help for Heroes, which helps wounded servicemen and women.
Harry, the third in line to the throne, spent two months in the United States last year completing a two-month helicopter training program in California and Arizona as part of a longer training program for his role as an Apache attack helicopter pilot. Known as Captain Wales in the British army, Harry was recognized by the Britain Defense Ministry as the best front-seat pilot, or co-pilot gunner, from his class of more than 20 fellow Apache helicopter pilots when he completed the full training in February.
The prince, who entered the military in May 2005, first served in Afghanistan with the Household Cavalry of Britain’s Army Air Corps in 2008, but was held back after his presence in the country was leaked because he was considered a high-value target.
While in Washington, Harry will also meet with a group of wounded British military personnel at the British Ambassador’s Residence and take part in Warrior Games, an annual event in which wounded service members compete in Paralympic-style sporting events, according to the BBC.
Harry’s visit to the United States comes on the heels of his seven-day tour of the Caribbean on his first official tour on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth. Harry was widely applauded for the fun and charm he brought to the overseas tour celebrating the queen’s Diamond Jubilee of 60 years on the throne.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.