Prince Harry hangs up his helmet

BELINDA GOLDSMITH AND STEPHEN ADAMSON
Last updated 12:45 18/01/2014
Prince Harry
JOHN STILLWELL/ Getty
FRONT-LINE: Prince Harry in the cockpit of an Apache attack helicopter.
Prince Harry
JOHN STILLWELL/ Getty
PILOT: Prince Harry examines an Apache attack helicopter in Afghanistan.

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Britain's Prince Harry is quitting front line military roles to help organise commemorative events, the latest member of Britain's royal family to take on more official duties as Queen Elizabeth scales down her workload.

His office said on Friday the prince, a captain in the army who is fourth in line to the British throne, would transfer to a desk job having just finished an attachment that took him to Afghanistan as an attack helicopter pilot.

Among his tasks would be helping to organise Trooping the Colour, an annual military parade and fly-past in London to celebrate the birthday of his grandmother, the Queen, who turns 88 this year.

Harry, 29, spent over three years on attachment to the Army Air Corps and returned a year ago from a 20-week posting in Afghanistan, his second tour of duty in the country.

His military role has enhanced his status in Britain and helped overcome his earlier reputation as a royal wild child, despite a setback in 2012 when he was photographed partying naked and playing billiards in a private room in Las Vegas.

Over the past year, Harry has taken a back seat in the British press with the spotlight on his elder brother, William, 31, and wife Kate who celebrated the birth of their first child, Prince George, last July.

Both brothers are held in affection by the British public as the two sons of the Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

Harry's public image was further enhanced late last year when he joined wounded soldiers on a two-week trek across Antarctica to raise funds for military charities.

His move to a desk job comes as his father, Prince Charles and brother William take on more official duties as the Queen scales back her workload.

Last month Charles attended the state funeral in South Africa for Nelson Mandela, representing the Queen, and for the first time last year the monarch did not attend the annual key Commonwealth leaders meeting, but sent Charles in her place.

William enrolled this month in a 10-week agricultural management course at Cambridge University that was seen as a move to prepare him for when he inherits the Duchy of Cornwall estate currently run by his father.

The duchy and title Duke of Cornwall are traditionally held by the eldest son of the reigning British monarch.

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Earlier, Buckingham Palace said that Zara Phillips, the queen's granddaughter and Harry's cousin, gave birth to a girl on Friday who becomes 16th in line to the throne.

- Reuters

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