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Prince Harry Reveals He Felt ‘Broken’ After Leaving His Soldiers Behind in Afghanistan

Prince Harry
Prince Harry walking out of a tent at the British-controlled flight line at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.

It has been eight years since Prince Harry was required to cut his first deployment to Afghanistan short for safety reasons, but his feelings from 2008 are still fresh, he revealed in a new interview with Good Morning America on Thursday, March 17.

“I was broken,” he told GMA’s Robin Roberts of being forced to leave the war zone. “I didn’t know what was going to happen to them and then suddenly I find myself on a plane that’s delayed because a Danish soldier’s coffin was being put onto the plane.”

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The young royal, 31, added that there were a few other sights that also rattled him to the core.

“Then, while I’m sitting there, I look through the curtain in the front, and there’s three of our lads wrapped in plastic, missing limbs,” he continued. “One of the guys clutching a little test tube or whatever it is of shrapnel that had been removed from his head and he was in a coma, clutching this thing. And I suddenly thought to myself, ‘People don’t get to see this.’ I never in those 10 weeks, I never saw the injury part. I only heard about it.”

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Prince Harry had been secretly serving in the British Army for 10 weeks when journalist Matt Drudge revealed the prince’s whereabouts on his popular website, The Drudge Report.

According to The New York Times, the Defense Ministry immediately announced that Prince Harry would have to return home for fear that his presence would place a target on him and his comrades.

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“Literally, being plucked out of my team and, yes, there was an element of me thinking, ‘I’m an officer. I’m leaving my soldiers and it’s not my decision,’” he told Roberts.

But the frustration of having to leave his men behind did have an upside: It led him to found the Invictus Games in 2014.

On Wednesday, March 16, Prince William’s younger brother made an announcement about the third annual games, to be held in Toronto, via a three-minute video posted on Kensington Palace’s official Twitter account.

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“2017 is a year steeped in rich Canadian military history, marking the anniversaries of historic battles that shaped and defined the nation,” he said in the clip. “It’s also the year when Canada will commemorate its 150th anniversary of the Confederation. … I cannot think of a better way to mark this milestone than by paying tribute to the soldiers and veterans who have served their country so bravely and to support them along their journey to recovery. You really will not want to miss this.”