Prince Harry Refused to Start a Family While in the Military: ‘I Couldn’t Imagine the Heartache’


  • Prince Harry’s military career spanned 10 years.
  • He “promised” himself he’d “be out” of the military “before having a wife and kids.” 
  • The 37-year-old said he “couldn’t imagine the heartache,” risk of injury, or changing his “family’s lives” forever.
Prince Harry looks on at the Invictus Games
Prince Harry | Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for Invictus Games The Hague 2020

Prince Harry‘s military ended before he married Meghan Markle or became a father. And, as the Duke of Sussex revealed at the current Invictus Games, it goes back to a promise he made himself while serving in the British military.

Prince Harry spent 10 years in the British Army

Prince Harry’s military service involved a slightly different path compared to other royals. Unlike his older brother, Prince William, Harry’s military career didn’t begin after college. Harry didn’t go to college. Instead, he attended a royal military academy when his time at boarding school ended. 

Following nearly a year of training, Harry joined the Blues and Royals, according to the royal family’s official website. He worked as a forward air controller and, later, an Apache helicopter pilot. 

During his time in the military, Harry rose through the ranks while undergoing two tours in Afghanistan. He even called it the happiest time of his life and an escape from royal life. In 2015, after 10 years in the British Army, he retired at the rank of major. 

He ‘promised’ himself he’d ‘be out’ before ‘having a wife and kids’

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry walk at the Invictus Games
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | Samir Hussein/WireImage

During the current Invictus Games, which end on April 22, 2022, the topic of Harry’s military service came up during interviews. The Duke of Sussex, who founded the adaptive sports competition for fellow veterans, revealed the promise he made himself in the British Army. 

“When I was in the Army, I promised myself I would be out before having a wife and kids,” he told People

Harry, who now shares two children — Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor and Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor — with Meghan Markle, continued, explaining his reasoning.

“I couldn’t imagine the heartache of being apart for so long during deployment,” he began. The Duke of Sussex went on to cite “the risk of possibly getting injured” and the “reality that my family’s lives could be changed forever if that happened.” 

“Every member of the Invictus community has experienced varying degrees of these things,” he added, noting the “tremendous respect” he has “for what they and their families sacrifice in the name of service.”

Prince Harry lost his honorary military titles after stepping down as a senior royal

Harry’s military service record wasn’t wiped clean after he stepped down as a senior royal in 2020. However, he — and Meghan — lost various titles. Among them were Harry’s honorary military titles.

“Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible,” Harry revealed in a January 2020 talk with Sentebale charity.

As a result, he lost honorary titles including Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Navy’s Small Ships and Diving Operations. 

Some claim Harry’s fighting to reclaim the titles. In the meantime, Harry’s no longer able to wear his military uniform in public

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