Prince Harry calls for all wounded British troops to be given a new award

Date: Tuesday August 30, 2016 at 11:27am

Prince Harry has called for a new honour to be created for members of the armed forces who have been injured while fighting – similar to the US Purple Heart Medal.

The prince, a former Apache helicopter pilot who served in Afghanistan, left the Army last year after a decade and has since been prominent campaigner to support injured soldiers.

Thousands of British soldiers are now thought to be living with both physical and mental scars as a result of the consequences of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Britain, the Elizabeth Cross is awarded to the family of a member of the armed forces who has lost their life while serving their country, but as of yet, no award exists for those who have been injured. 

A military source told the Mirror: ‘Prince Harry is a huge ambassador for the wounded and feels it is hard to understand why there is no recognition for the wounded.

‘The pace of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan heightened every week and field hospitals like the one in Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, worked at a furious pace.

‘But Harry has been saying for some time that the wounded need to have their sacrifice and suffering recognised.

‘To be wounded fighting is a big deal and it would be a huge honour to receive such a medal as a symbol of gratitude from Britain and Prince Harry knows that.

‘In the past whenever the subject of a Purple Heart-style medal for British troops comes up military commanders have dismissed it as not British.

‘But that sentiment now looks outdated and inappropriate.’

Kensington Palace refused to comment on Harry's plea today. 

The royal - known as 'Captain Wales' to his comrades - went on two tours of duty to Afghanistan and qualified as an Apache aircraft commander during his decade in the forces.

Harry's military career began when he took 44-week training at the prestigious Sandhurst college in Camberley, Surrey, in May 2005.

He has served twice on the front line in Afghanistan since graduating from Sandhurst, first sent out as a forward air controller in 2007 after his wish to serve in the infantry was deemed too dangerous to both himself and his men.

He was forced to return early from the posting when a foreign website broke the news blackout on his deployment.

He then retrained with the Army Air Corps and was picked to fly the Apache attack helicopter. He returned to Afghanistan in 2012 and his 10-year career ended in June 2015.

Since leaving the Army, the 31-year-old helped set up the Invictus Games which has helped a number of soldiers who have been injured in the line of duty to exhibit their strengths and compete against each other.

This year’s tournament, which was held in Orlando, Florida, was supported by the President of the United States and the First Lady.

The Purple Heart is a medal awarded to soldiers who have been wounded or killed while serving in the US military since 1917.

Army chiefs are thought to have refused to issue a Purple Heart-style award for wounded soldiers as they said it was ‘un-British,’ according to the Mirror. 

The Ministry of Defence also refused to comment today. 

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