Prince Harry steps out to address mental health of veterans in London

By Zach Harper

The Duke of Sussex wore a navy blue suit and a large grin on Thursday (March 14) as he was greeted at an event that's close to his heart: the Veterans’ Mental Health Conference at King’s College in London.

Prince Harry arrives at the Veterans’ Mental Health Conference at King's College London. Photo: © John Phillips/Getty Images

The annual conference brings politicians and experts together to share ideas about how best to tackle veterans’ needs. According to Kensington Palace, the 34-year-old prince is set to have a very full day at the event, where he'll attend several presentations about how countries handle military mental health around the world.

PHOTOS: Prince Harry underwent psychological testing after Afghanistan

This isn’t the first time Harry has been at the conference. In 2018, he gave the keynote address, in which he told delegates he had personally seen former service members “struggling to seek out the help they desperately need.”

Harry congratulates the United States team at the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia. Photo: © Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Of course, Harry has a long history of supporting veterans and has done extensive work on mental health issues. He has trained the UK Ministry of Defence on how to improve former soldiers’ mental health supports. He has also spoken candidly and courageously about dealing with grief after the death of Princess Diana, his mother, and his own issues.

“I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life, but my work as well,” he told The Telegraph in 2017.

And the prince has done incredible work with the Invictus Games, which he founded in 2014 as a way to engage wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans. It's a sports competition similar to the Olympics, and includes wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, indoor rowing and more. He and Duchess Meghan made their public debut as a couple at the 2017 games in Toronto.

Prince Harry while examining the Apache flight-line at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan in 2012. Photo: © John Stillwell/Getty Images

When Harry closed the 2018 Invictus Games, he made sure to thank the competitors for their courage and pointed out why mental health awareness and fighting stigma are both important. “By simply being here and fighting back from some of the darkest experiences known to anyone, you have become role models for everyone at home or in the stands who might be struggling with their emotions or with a mental illness,” he said, according to People. “You are showing it’s okay not to be okay. And most importantly, you are showing us all that it’s okay to ask for help.”

Harry is also a veteran himself, having served two tours in Afghanistan in 2007-2008 and 2012-2013, and having been an active serviceman for an entire decade. He's also a patron of UK charity Walking With The Wounded, which helps injured British veterans move from their careers in the armed forces to civilian life.

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