Veterans and military figures are defending Prince Harry in the face of criticism of his service record from a U.K. politician.
Speaking at a meeting at the annual conference of the opposition Labour Party on Tuesday, Emma Dent Coad — who represents the area covered by Kensington Palace in London — claimed, “He tried to pass the helicopter exam about four times and he couldn’t get through it at all, so he always goes for the copilot. So he just sits there going ‘vroom vroom.’ ” She also commented that Harry, 33, and his brother Prince William, 35, are “not that bright,” adding, “Just let them drift away, be playboys or whatever.”
Harry served 10 years in the army — including two tours of Afghanistan. Since he left the service in 2015, he has thrown himself into helping the welfare of veterans – mainly through his Invictus Games that are currently underway in Toronto.
The royal won plaudits during his Army training and served as a copilot on Apache attack helicopters. But on Wednesday Dent Coad doubled down on her remarks, telling the BBC, “Somebody else will tell me whether or not that’s true, but I’ve been told that’s an absolute fact that somebody sits beside him and drives the helicopters for him.”
In Toronto, veterans and friends swept to his defense. Shortly after Harry, 33, congratulated the Vice Captain of the U.K. team, Jen Warren, on her gold medal in hand- cycling, she told reporters, “There are 550 people out here, plus all their family and friends who are telling you that is [rubbish]. Harry has proved himself in the military, he has done two tours of Afghanistan and there are not many royals that can say that. What’s more he has proved himself once again.”
And last year’s captain, David Wiseman – who is also head of the Armed Forces Programs at the Royal Foundation headed by Harry, Prince William and Princess Kate – tweeted from Toronto: “Who voted for this clown?”
Warren added, “Harry is my hero. The amount of work he puts into these events — he talks to the competitors, he talks to the crowd, he doesn’t shut himself off or put himself on show. He is working 24/7. He works his socks off.
“I was just blown away by how he uses all of his strength and all of his toolkit to give back to the community. It’s great to see here at the Invictus Games teams from all over the world. In a war situation we might be fighting each other, but this is a community without borders and having a great relationship. We are competing against each other but the camaraderie is amazing and that trickles down from Harry.
“He makes such an effort to talk to everybody, he goes out of his way to make sure there is no one left untouched.”
Senior Labour MP John Woodcock apologized for Dent Coad’s remarks on behalf of the Labour Party and said her comments do not reflect the views of the party. “Like everyone who puts themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe, his Royal Highness deserves nothing but praise and respect for his service in the armed forces,” Woodcock posted on Twitter.
Harry’s office at Kensington Palace has no comment.
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