DENVER – Britain’s Prince Harry, a veteran combat helicopter pilot, is meeting with wounded servicemen and women competing in the paralympic-style Warrior Games in Colorado.
The prince plans to attend the opening ceremonies Saturday at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, chat with the United Kingdom’s team and watch a volleyball match. He’ll also watch a cycling competition on Sunday.
The visit got under way Friday night when Harry charmed dozens of dignitaries, British expatriates, students and military officers at a cocktail party welcoming him to Colorado. He also joined the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to Olympian Missy Franklin, who was celebrating her 18th birthday at a golf club south of Denver.
A captain in Britain’s Army Air Corps, Harry has deployed to Afghanistan twice. He’s attending the Colorado games because he believes the wounded deserve recognition, according to a statement from St. James’ Palace in London, the official residence of the royal family.
“He has said before how humbled he feels by the extraordinary courage and fortitude shown by those servicemen and women who have made huge sacrifices for their country, and to whom we all owe a considerable debt of gratitude,” the statement said.
Harry returned to Britain in January after a 20-week deployment to Afghanistan as a co-pilot and gunner on an Apache helicopter.
He acknowledged to reporters he had targeted Taliban fighters, and when asked if he had killed anyone, said, “Yeah, so, lots of people have.”
His first deployment to Afghanistan, as a forward air controller in 2007-2008, was cut short after 10 weeks when details of his whereabouts were disclosed in the media.
He caused a scandal on his last trip to the U.S. when he was photographed frolicking nude with an unidentified woman in a Las Vegas hotel suite in August.
“It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince,” he said afterward.
The Warrior Games run through Thursday. They also include basketball, shooting, archery, swimming and track and field. About 260 athletes are expected.