Prince Harry to Leave the Military

The 30-year-old prince has served in the military for nearly 10 years.

February 27, 2015, 12:36 PM
PHOTO: Prince Harry attends a graduation event at St James's Palace on Jan. 14, 2015 in London, England.
Prince Harry attends a graduation event at St James's Palace on Jan. 14, 2015 in London, England.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

— -- Britain’s Prince Harry is planning to leave the military, ABC News has learned.

"Captain Wales," as he is known in the military, has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and his principle focus when he leaves active duty will be to continue to foster programs which support disabled veterans.

Harry, 30, is currently engaged in a U.K. Ministry of Defense recovery capability program to provide the appropriate assistance and support to the wounded, injured and sick who are trying to reintegrate into society.

Royal sources told ABC News, "Harry's work with service members remains intensely important to him."

Prince Harry, the fourth-in-line to the British throne, joined the British Army in May 2005 and rose to the rank of Apache helicopter commander in July after three years of training. The British Defense Ministry named Harry the best front-seat pilot, or co-pilot gunner, in February 2012 from his class of more than 20 fellow Apache helicopter pilots.

The prince returned to England in January 2013 from a five-month deployment to Afghanistan with the Royal Air Force’s 662 Squadron of the Army Air Corps, where he served as an Apache co-pilot gunner.

Harry also served on the front lines for two and one half months as a forward air controller in Afghanistan's Helmand province in 2007-2008 before his cover was blown and he returned to the U.K.

The Evening Standard's Royal Editor Robert Jobson, who first broke the story, cites a “senior source” as saying that Harry thought “long and hard about his decision to leave active military service.”

Last September, Prince Harry launched the high-profile Invictus Games in London, a four-day event that showcased injured service men and women from 14 countries competing in everything from cycling, wheelchair basketball and rugby to sitting volleyball and swimming.

“The point of them is to basically use the power of sport to help these guys through the rehabilitation,” Harry said at the time. “It’s basically a pathway to allow the wounded, injured and sick communities within the U.K. - and across the board as well because we’ve got 14 nations coming to it – giving them a pathway back into employment.”

Prince Harry is expected to spend several weeks with the Australian military forces before he leaves active service.

The royal source told ABC News, "Like many soldiers Prince Harry is at a cross roads in his military career and took time to evaluate, 'Do you continue as a career soldier or do you decide to pursue a different path?'"

Harry's main focus, the source added, will remain aiding veterans but he will have, "more time to focus on his other passion, conservation and wildlife issues in Africa."

Prince Harry is the co-founder of Sentebale, an AIDS charity he started with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho 10 years ago. The charity, which means "forget me not," was a tribute to their mothers. Sentebale aims to help the vulnerable children of Lesotho, which has the third-largest HIV/AIDS incidence in the world.

The move away from the military will allow Harry to spend more time with the children of LeSotho and pioneering programs to foster the work his charity has started there.

Prince Harry will also continue to represent his grandmother, Her Majesty The Queen, on official duties at home and abroad as a senior member of the royal family.

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