Prince Harry Gives Up Cockpit Seat for 95-Year-Old WWII Veteran

The royal marked his 31st birthday by honoring Britain's WWII veterans.

— -- Prince Harry is back in Great Britain, sporting a new beard and celebrating his 31st birthday after a long summer away from London at the front lines of anti-poaching efforts in Africa.

Harry, who retired from the military earlier this summer, decided to celebrate his birthday by honoring World War II spitfire pilots on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Sir Winston Churchill once called the pilots "the few still alive" and Harry spent the day honoring the veterans, many of whom are now in their 90s. The WWII spitfire and hurricane pilots took to the skies at the Battle of Britain Flypast in Chichester, England, to mark the anniversary.

Prince Harry, the fifth-in-line to the British throne, described himself as “unbelievably fortunate and lucky” to be celebrating at the event on his birthday.

Harry, a certified pilot himself, was supposed to get in the cockpit and fly with the veterans, but when one of the planes broke, the prince gave up his seat so that 95-year-old Wing Commander Tom Neil could take part in honoring his fellow heroes.

“I can't begin to comprehend what they must have gone through,” Harry told Britain's Channel 4, which is preparing a documentary, “Battle of Britain: Return of the Spitfires,” on the WWII heroes.

While Harry focused on the veterans on his birthday, the prince will reportedly be the guest of honor at a boat party on the Thames later this week organized by his friends to welcome him back.

The prince spent the last three months tracking lions in a remote region of Namibia and working on the front lines in the anti-poaching efforts to save the endangered rhino in Southern Africa

Now that he is back in England, Prince Harry has a busy fall ahead of him with multiple royal engagements and two foreign trips.

On Friday, the prince, the patron of England’s Rugby Football Union, will attend the Rugby World Cup with his brother, Prince William, and sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Harry will focus his attentions on wounded soldiers and veterans again this fall by helping them transition back to work and productive lives.

He will support, through his charity, Walking With the Wounded, the “Walk of Britain,” an expedition in which four British and two U.S. wounded veterans are walking 1,000 miles across Britain, ending at Buckingham Palace in November.

In late October, Prince Harry will make his first of several foreign trips, beginning with a trip to Washington, D.C., to begin work on the 2016 Invictus Games, a wounded warriors’ athletic event that will be held for the first time in the U.S. at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Further down the line, Prince Harry will venture back to Lesotho for the opening of the Children's Mamohato Center, a children’s center that will serve as the “flagship facility” for the AIDS-focused charity, Sentebale, Harry founded more than 10 years ago in honor of his late mother, Princess Diana.

Prince Harry will also undertake a tour to South Africa in late November on behalf of his grandmother, the Queen.