Prince Harry has made it his mission to support injured servicemen and women when they return from battle, and one of his latest bids saw the royal trek to the South Pole on behalf of charity Walking With The Wounded.
As patron of the charity, Harry has no doubt raised the organisation’s profile and does so with a “passion” for the future of wounded military men.
But away from the public gaze, Harry is just “an ordinary guy,” said Ed Parker, co-founder and CEO of the charity.
Prince Harry is patron of Walking With The Wounded
“It was a huge privilege to trek with Prince Harry,” Ed told ! Online, referring to the Prince’s most recent, gruelling challenge. “But having him there, he’s just like anyone else on the team. He did his bit, he fitted in to the team seamlessly and actually after you get away from the bright lights and the flashing camera bulbs, you really don’t see him as anyone else but one of the team.
“Of course he is quite special, but he’s an ordinary guy when he’s away from the eyes of the world,” added Ed, who has participated in every expedition that the charity hosts. “Having Harry is the difference between us being where we are now and where we would be otherwise, which I think would be significantly smaller.
“He’s a soldier himself and he’s got firsthand experience on what these men and women have been through. He’s very passionate that people appreciate what they’ve done and he’s also very passionate about their future, and that people should be inspired to challenge themselves.”
Ed Parker and Prince Harry
While Ed admitted that the high-profile expeditions served as the charity’s “shop window”, the former military man added that the charity’s emphasis was to support injured personnel back into the workplace.
“We’re all about employment and helping these people get skills and training and being able to transfer the skills they had in the military into the workplace,” he said.
“I helped set up the charity following my nephew being wounded in Afghanistan in 2009. I felt we’re all force fed stories of pity and self sorrow and yet here were these extraordinary people who were talking about the future and challenging themselves, and despite injury, wanting to live a full and fruitful life.”
Prince Harry on the South Pole trek last year
One of the elements the charity depends on is fundraising, and their upcoming involvement in Polo in the Park — which takes place from 6 to 8 June — serves them well. The three-day sporting and social event will see a silent auction held at the Hurlingham Club in London to raise funds, followed by a family day on Sunday 8 June, when injured servicemen who have taken part in expeditions will join in the fun.
“Polo in the Park has been a great event for us ever since we joined as the official charity four years ago,” said Ed. “Sunday’s the big day for us because that’s when some of our beneficiaries and our expedition team members are involved on family day. This will be the third year we’ve done that and it’s really good fun.
“The whole production and what’s on offer has improved hugely. It’s now a very slick, very professionally organised, amazing event.”