An openly gay former British soldier has revealed how Prince Harry stepped in to save him from a homophobic attack by other soldiers.
James Wharton told the Daily Mail that during a 2008 training exercise in Canada he was confronted by six soldiers from a rival regiment who threatened to beat him for being gay.
Wharton said he went to Harry, who was his tank commander at the time, to report the threats.
“I told him, ‘I think I’m going to be murdered by the infantry.’ I climbed into the [tank] turret and talked Harry through exactly what had happened.
“He had a complete look of bewilderment on his face,” Wharton, who was 21 at the time, recounted to the newspaper.
“I couldn’t stop the tears from welling up in my eyes. He said, ‘Right I’m going to sort this s*** out once and for all.'”
Wharton said that Harry climbed out of the tank and that he saw him “having a go” at the homophobic soldiers. Harry also briefed a senior officer who told Wharton that the issue had been resolved.
“I will always be grateful to Harry and I will never forget what happened. Until he went over and dealt with everything I was on track for a battering,” said Wharton, who has since left the army.
The incident is detailed in Wharton’s book about his ten year military career, titled Out In The Army.
Ben Summerskill, head of the Stonewall LGBT rights group, commented to the Mail: “I take my hat off to [Harry] for protecting James Wharton.”
Prince Harry has previously shown himself to be gay friendly. In 2011, he partied at a London gay bar in Soho until the early hours of the morning.
In November 2009, Harry kissed a gay fan in exchange for a beer at a nightclub in the UK.
“I went up to him and told him I would love to buy him a drink – if he gave me a kiss, Harry just burst out laughing, threw his arms around me and kissed me on the left cheek,” Rocky Bennett said at the time.
Gays and lesbians have been allowed to serve openly in the British military since 2000. The military actively recruits gay men and lesbians, including at gay Pride events.