PRINCE Harry has said “service happens in the quiet” after he and Meghan Markle were slammed for their Remembrance Day photoshoot.
The Duke of Sussex, 36, made the comments during a star-studded virtual fundraiser for army veterans called Stand Up For Heroes.
In the message he said: “As far as I see it, service is what happens in the quiet and in the chaos. It’s what happens when people aren’t looking and it’s about how we take care of each other every single day.”
Harry, wearing his military medals, also spoke about his own service, which included two frontline tours to Afghanistan.
He said: “[My] experience changed my life forever and for the better.
“It changed how I viewed sacrifice and service. I was born into a life of duty, but it was during my decade in the army that I committed to a life of service.
“My experience in the military made me who I am today – and it also connected me with some of the strongest, funniest and most memorable people I’ve ever met.
“Once we join this team, we are always part of this team. Once we’ve served, we are always serving, and proudly so.”
The royal also spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic, saying this year had been “incredibly hard”.
“But we’ve also seen incredible resilience and purpose,” he said.
Earlier this month, Harry was forced to deny his Remembrance Sunday photo shoot with wife Meghan Markle was a “publicity stunt” following a backlash.
The couple were pictured laying flowers at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.
The Times reported Buckingham Palace refused Harry’s request to have a wreath laid on his behalf at the Cenotaph in London because he no longer represents the monarchy.
The Queen was reportedly not told about her grandson’s request.
Harry, who now lives in California with Meghan, was believed to be very upset at the decision to reject his wish, The Times reported, as he has close links with the military.
Instead his wreath lay forgotten at the Royal British Legion’s Kent HQ.
He was later pictured with his wife in LA, laying flowers picked from their garden at the graves of two Commonwealth soldiers – one from the Royal Australian Airforce and one from the Royals Canadian Artillery.
The couple laid an all-green poppyless wreath during their visit to the cemetery.
The images were captured by Lee Morgan, a celebrity fashion photographer who has worked with Kanye West and Vogue.
The couple quickly came under fire for the move, with Piers Morgan accusing them of using it as a “PR opportunity.”
The Good Morning Britain host wrote on Twitter: “Just outrageous – treating Remembrance Sunday like a PR opportunity, & trying to steal headlines from the real royals doing their duty back home.”
Responding to another post on social media, he added: “If they wanted to be’ ‘left alone’, they wouldn’t do PR stunts every day to get media attention.”
Others echoed his comments online, with one person writing: “They aren’t royal. This should not be a photo op.”
Those close to Harry defended the photos, claiming the Duke of Sussex’s military family will always be one of the most important things to him.
They also denied accusations the visit to the cemetery was a publicity stunt.
“If you listen to the podcast that he did at the weekend, he talks about wearing the poppy and wanting to recognise Remembrance Sunday, not only for all those people historically, but also for the people he knew that he lost,” a source close to Harry said.
“I don’t think that’s someone who does something like Remembrance Sunday as a publicity stunt.”
They added: “It’s probably not surprising that having served on the front line, having done tours of duty, having been in the military for 10 years, having created [the] Invictus [Games], supported Walking with the Wounded and all others, that the military community, the military family is probably one of the most important things to the duke, and will always be so.”
Yesterday, Harry was spotted volunteering for a non-profit organisation which provides COVID-19 support for army veterans and their families.
The Duke wore pair of jeans, trainers and a face mask as he packaged up fresh food parcels for the Walker Family Events Foundation in Compton, Los Angeles.
After the visit, the non-profit publicly thanked the royal on its Instagram page.
Alongside the image of the Prince, Walker Family Events co-founder Tia wrote: “Today I had the honor of meeting and working alongside Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.
“He joined us in volunteering at Compton VFW for the Operation Nourish program packing and distributing food to our #Compton neighbors.”
The fan described Harry – who stepped down as a senior member of the Royal Family in March – as “very humble and kind”.