Prince Harry’s Military Career Reportedly Played a Major Role in the Couple’s Royal Exit

It might have taken getting married and becoming a father to convince Prince Harry to leave the royal family, but that doesn’t mean the idea wasn’t always on his mind. Though many blame Meghan, Duchess of Sussex for the couple’s 2020 departure, Harry had always dreamt of a life where he was “something other than Prince Harry.” And his time in the military — far from the glitz and glam of royal life — reportedly solidified his eventual exit.

Prince Harry served 10 years in the military.
Prince Harry served 10 years in the military. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped down in March

Back in November 2019, Harry and Meghan took a break from the drama of the royal family and headed to North America for six weeks. Little did the public know, the two were planning to make a major announcement upon returning home. In January 2020, Meghan and Harry officially announced that they’d be stepping back from their roles as senior royals for a more peaceful, private life.

The decision didn’t go over well with the public, and many blamed Meghan for the couple’s departure. But in reality, Harry had spent several years in the military, all of which served as a chance for him to be something more than a prince. And those years stuck with him until he finally took control of his own life.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

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The military became a safe place for the prince

When Harry enrolled in the military, he was doing what every other British royal man had done. But Harry’s years in the military weren’t something he did because he was required. They became some of the most important years of his life.

“Suddenly, he was sleeping in the same barracks, eating the same food, wearing the same clothes, and stationed in the same war zones as people he’d never rubbed elbows with before,” royal commentator Kristen Meinzer told Insider. “Back in 2013, after completing a four-month tour of Afghanistan — and long before Meghan was in the picture — he was expressing the same sentiments [about leaving the family].”

RELATED: Prince Harry Reveals Heartbreaking Reason for Exit From Royal Family: There Was ‘No Other Option’ for a ‘Peaceful Life’ 

Harry’s time in the military gave him a glimpse at a normal life

While in the military, Harry was treated the same as everyone else. He wasn’t a royal — he was on the same level as all the others. And he once revealed that he much preferred it to being a prince. He once revealed to The Guardian that he “definitely” felt more comfortable in the military than at Kensington Palace, where he once lived before marrying Meghan.

Harry also credited the military for giving him some normalcy. “You forget, I was in the military for 10 years, so I’m more normal than my family would like to believe,” he said in his 2019 ITV interview.

He was scarred by the paparazzi after his mother’s death

Harry’s want for a normal life stretches back far before he met Meghan. He admits to being scarred by his mother’s death and that her loss took a huge mental and emotional toll on him. He lashed out, partying and drinking too much, mostly because of the life he was forced to live — and that his mother wasn’t there to guide him.

That, combined with his years in the military, made him always crave a life where he wasn’t referred to as “His Royal Highness.” The couple’s decision to step down and move to North America might, on the surface, seem like Meghan’s “fault,” though Harry made it clear years ago that he was ready to leave at any time.