Sunday, June 09, 2013

Prince Harry: Soldier's Protector from Anti-Gay Hate?

Royal protection: Prince Harry
The British publication, The Daily Mail, is carrying a story about a book, "Out in the Army," that former British Trooper James Wharton has written that tells about his ten-year military career.  In a portion of the book Wharton tells about his surprising protector from threats of anti-gay violence: HRH Prince Harry.   Despite his at times scandalous escapades, Harry remains a breath of fresh air in the British monarchy and  never seems to take himself too seriously or ignore the plight of others.  Here are some excepts from the Mail piece:

A gay soldier told last night how Prince Harry bravely rescued him from a terrifying homophobic attack by squaddies from a rival regiment.

The Prince stepped in to save Trooper James Wharton after he was confronted by six soldiers threatening to ‘batter’ him.

Trooper Wharton fled to find Harry – who was his tank commander – and tearfully told the Prince what had happened.

‘I told him, “I think I’m going to be murdered by the infantry.” I climbed into the turret and talked Harry through exactly what had happened. He had a complete look of bewilderment on his face.
‘I couldn’t stop the tears from welling up in my eyes. He said, “Right I’m going to sort this s*** out once and for all.” 

'He climbed out of the tank and I poked my head out of  the turret a few moments later to see him having a go,’ Wharton said.  Harry, a Troop Commander in the Blues and Royals, confronted the tormentors, warning them they would face severe discipline if they continued their violent threats.

The remarkable incident reinforces the view of Harry as an officer with unfailing commitment to the troops under his command. 

The confrontation came on a training exercise in Canada in September 2008 and is detailed in a book Wharton has written about his ten-year military career, Out In The Army – exclusive extracts from which appear in today’s Mail on Sunday.

Homosexuality had been legal in the British Forces since 2000, but there was still a long way to go. I found this to my cost just few years later when I woke badly injured in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, the result of a vicious attack by a fellow  soldier at my Knightsbridge barracks. 

He had kicked, punched and battered me with an iron pole as he screamed words like ‘queer’. I looked horrific. The blood was oozing out of me. If he’d continued, he’d have faced a murder charge.

But 12 months later, when one of my officers in the Household Cavalry looked at a photograph of me and my boyfriend on my barrack room wall – and told me we looked good together – I knew I had made the right decision to be open about my sexuality. That officer was Prince Harry, and he was to prove one of my greatest protectors.

Trooper Wharton

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