By Gwen Aviles
A former soldier who served with Prince Harry in the British army said that the prince defended him from other soldiers who had taunted him for being gay and that the abuse stopped once the prince confronted them.
James Wharton, one of the British army's first openly gay soldiers, told Forces News in the United Kingdom, that Prince Harry, who was his tank commander in 2008, stood up to colleagues who had made him feel "uncomfortable" about his sexuality.
"I got into my tank where Prince Harry was doing something, and he could see that I was clearly affected by something and he asked me what the problem was," Wharton told Forces News. "I told him that there were a couple of soldiers outside who weren't very happy with the fact I was gay."
According to Wharton, the Duke of Sussex was "quite offended" by his fellow soldiers' behavior and after the prince spoke to them, "the problem went away."
Beyond this incident, Wharton noted that Prince Harry, who announced plans last week to step back from the monarchy, was "well-liked" and frequently commiserated with his peers, despite his royal status.
"He knew how to do his job. He was skilled," Wharton said. "He took the time to know his people. He wasn't afraid to get himself involved with things that were going on."
Prince Harry's LGBTQ allyship has been well documented and has garnered him favorable comparisons to his mother, Princess Diana, who worked to destigmatize the lesbian and gay community in the United Kingdom during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
Last year, his mental health charity, Heads Together, invited Mermaid, a U.K.-based transgender youth charity, to join its wellness efforts. The collaboration was considered noteworthy given that Mermaids — and transgender advocates more broadly — had been subject to vocal criticism by the public and media in the U.K.
Harry's wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has also been lauded by the LGBTQ community for reportedly telling her friends that she plans to raise their son, Archie, with a “fluid” approach to gender, including a gender-neutral nursery, according to Vanity Fair.