27 of Prince Harry's Major Royal Milestones
As Prince Harry celebrates his 33rd birthday on Sept. 15, what better time to take a look at the most personal triumphs that he has so far achieved in his life as well as the most important and meaningful milestones? With marriage and a family of his own to surely come in the not-too-distant future, we're taking a look at the key moments of the prince's life so far.
Public Debut, 1984
On Sept. 15 1984, the yet-to-be-named baby prince left St. Mary's Hospital with his parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana. At just 24 hours old, it was his introduction to the world.
His Royal Highness Prince Henry Charles Albert David was christened on Dec. 21 in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, which is later where Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles were to have their marriage blessed and where Princess Charlotte was christened.
In a royal first, Harry's christening was filmed and televised along with the queen's annual Christmas message four days later. Harry's christening was also marked with a poem from Poet Laureate Ted Hughes called Rain-Charm For the Duchy.
Royal Tradition, 1985
Prince George was almost 2 years old when he made his Buckingham Palace balcony debut at Trooping the Colour in 2015, and Princess Charlotte was 13 months at hers in 2016, but Harry was just 9 months old when he made his first appearance at Trooping the Colour — one of the key dates in the royal calendar.
The day after his third birthday, Prince Harry was off to Mrs. Mynor's nursery just around the corner from his home of Kensington Palace. At the end of his first day, he viewed the waiting photographers through his handmade binoculars.
Three days before his fifth birthday, Harry joined big brother William at Wetherby School near Kensington Palace. Harry started a week late because he had been sick with stomach flu.
Diana's Death, 1997
Nothing altered the young prince's future more than losing his mother at the age of 12, and Harry finally spoke of his loss recently for the BBC documentary Diana 7 Days.
First Trip to Africa, 1997
Just two months after his mother's death, Harry accompanied his father, Prince Charles, on an official visit to Africa, and a life-long passion for the continent began. While in South Africa, Harry met President Nelson Mandela and visited a Zulu village.
Just before his 14th birthday Harry started at Eton College, where older brother William was already a pupil. Harry later said he didn't enjoy Eton, revealing during a visit to a correction center in Cape Town, South Africa, "I would like to have come to a place like this." However, he made friends at Eton who are still part of his inner circle today.
Turning 18, 2002
As Harry came of age and prepared to leave school, he started attending official engagements in order to decide which charities he would like to support. He also gave his first official interview where he spoke of wanting to carry on the work of his mother: "She had more guts than anyone else. I want to carry on the things that she didn't quite finish. I have always wanted to, but was too young."
The Military, 2003
While studying at Eton, Harry thrived in his involvement with the Combined Cadet Force, a youth organization that teaches military-themed activities and his first real introduction to a potential career in the armed forces. Before he left Eton, Harry was promoted to Lance Corporal and led a detachment of 48 cadets in the prestigious annual tattoo.
World Travel, 2004
Like his brother William before him, Harry embarked on a gap year after leaving school, and although Harry focused on three forms of work experience in three different countries, it was one in particular that left an indelible mark on him. In addition to training as cowboy in Australia and working on a polo farm in Argentina, Harry first visited the tiny African country Lesotho. The trip was planned because Lesotho had one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and Harry saw the effects firsthand. His time in Lesotho stayed with him, and just over a year later, he found a way of putting his thoughts and feelings into action.
First Love, 2004
While Harry was in Africa on his gap year, he also started dating Zimbabwean student Chelsy Davy. She was Harry's first love, and they were together on and off for seven years.
Moving On, 2005
As Harry and William grew up, their feelings toward Camilla Parker-Bowles were governed by her role in their parent's separation. However, when it became clear that their father's decades-long on/off relationship with Camilla was not going to end, the princes met her and so began the rocky process of bridge-building.
By the time Charles and Camilla married in the Spring of 2005, Harry and William's feelings toward their stepmother were growing steadily warmer, and they have also forged strong relationships with their stepbrother, Tom Parker-Bowles, and stepsister, Laura Lopes.
Harry's love of the military meant that there was one very clear calling for him: a career in the Armed Forces. In order to serve as an officer, it's necessary to train at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, which is where Harry headed in May 2005. When graduating a year later, he struggled to keep a straight face as his grandmother the queen inspected the troops, but he was very serious about embarking on a career that would span the next 10 years of his life.
First Job, 2006
Soon after graduating Sandhurst, Harry moved into his first army barracks and started his Troop Leader's course at the Armour Centre in Bovington, Dorset.
After being forever changed by his gap year visit to Lesotho, Harry joined forces with the country's Prince Seeiso to set up the charity Sentebale. The word Sentebale means "forget-me-not" in Lesotho and was chosen as the name of the charity as a tribute to the late mothers of the two princes. Proceeds go to helping the children of Lesotho who are affected by HIV/AIDS, and it has now been running for 11 years. Harry takes a trip to the country most years.
Charity Patronages, 2007
A 22-year-old Harry was moving forward with his military career, but also developing his royal role, and in 2007, his first three patronages were announced. He became a figurehead for Dolen Cymru and MapAction, but has been most closely associated with WellChild, attending the Wellchild Awards every Fall.
As Prince William turned 29 and Prince Harry turned 27, they officially started up their own office, rather than operating through their father's. They also set up their own charity, which they intended would give support to key areas of need, both at home and overseas.
The charity's name was changed after the royal wedding in 2011 to The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, and the royal trio continues to push forward in five predominant areas: the Armed Forces, conservation, cyberbullying, mental health, and young people.
After training as a helicopter pilot, Harry graduated in May 2010. He once more struggled to keep a straight face in a formal setting as his father, Prince Charles — Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps — awarded him his honor.
Best Man, 2011
Harry and William aren't just brothers, they are best friends, and Harry was by William's side when he married Kate Middleton in 2011.
Later that year, Harry moved out of his father's home in Clarence House and set up his first solo home in Kensington Palace, right next door to William and Kate.
First Tour, 2012
The queen's Diamond Jubilee year marked an important milestone for Harry, as he set off on his own debut solo tour. It was a big responsibility to be representing his grandmother in the four countries he visited at the relatively young age of 27, but the tour was an unequivocal success.
Humanitarian Award, 2012
Harry was singled out to receive a humanitarian award for his continued support of wounded veterans, which he was presented with by former Secretary of State Colin Powell during a ceremony in Washington DC.
After his first tour of Afghanistan was thwarted four years earlier, Harry headed back to complete what he started and was able to fulfill his dream. The prince was stationed at Camp Bastion between September 2012 and January 2013.
The Invictus Games, 2014
After being introduced to the Warrior Games during a tour of North America in 2013, Harry made it his mission to create a similar event and pushed for it to be ready one year later. So in September 2014, the first Invictus Games was launched in London and were such a success that the second games were held in Miami in 2016. The third year is about to be held in Toronto, and the fourth games will be held in Sydney, Australia, next year.
A United Front, 2016
Over the past two years, Harry, William, and Kate have made it one of their priorities to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health, speaking about their own struggles with mental health issues as encouragement for others to do the same.
As Harry celebrates his 33rd birthday, he is a man who has been through his fair share of battles — both actual and figurative — and he has experienced the most terrible of times, as well as the most wonderful. As he moves forward with Meghan Markle by his side and his path in life is clear, all eyes are on him to see what comes next . . .