Prince Harry honors veterans at 2021 Salute to Freedom Gala: ‘The military made me who I am today’

Prince Harry reflected on his time serving in the military.

On Wednesday, the Duke of Sussex honored veterans at the 2021 Salute to Freedom Gala at New York City’s Intrepid Museum ahead of Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in the U.K.

During his appearance, the British prince discussed the isolation service members often feel when returning home, stressing the importance of supporting our veterans. The 37-year-old served a decade in the British army and two tours in Afghanistan.

“My experience in the military made me who I am today, and I will always be grateful for the people I got to serve with – wherever in the world we are,” said Harry, as quoted by People magazine.

PRINCE HARRY SAYS ‘MEGXIT’ IS ‘A MISOGYNISTIC TERM CREATED BY A TROLL’ TO TARGET HIS WIFE

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the 2021 Salute To Freedom Gala at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on November 10, 2021 in New York City.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the 2021 Salute To Freedom Gala at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on November 10, 2021 in New York City.
(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

“But in war, you also see and experience things you hope no one else has to,” he shared. “These stay with us, sometimes like a slideshow of images.”

According to the outlet, Harry explained that he created the Invictus Games “to honor the legacy of those who have given so much” and to show “that the men and women who have experienced service injuries, as well as their families, are the strongest people in the world.”

“They deserve a platform to be seen, a platform to be recognized and a platform to be truly celebrated,” he added.

During the ceremony, Harry welcomed the 2021 Intrepid Valor Award honorees who “are part of an everlasting bond.”

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Prince Harry sits with Lance Cpl of Horse Chris 'Dougie' Douglass atop a Spartan armoured vehicle on February 18, 2008 in the Helmand province, Southern Afghanistan.

Prince Harry sits with Lance Cpl of Horse Chris ‘Dougie’ Douglass atop a Spartan armoured vehicle on February 18, 2008 in the Helmand province, Southern Afghanistan.
(Photo by John Stillwell POOL/ Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)

“You are part of the team of teams,” said the father of two. “And we will always have your backs. You are not alone.”

Following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to step back as senior members of the royal family, Buckingham Palace announced Harry’s appointment as captain-general of the Royal Marines and titles with other military groups would revert to the queen before being distributed to other members of the family.

Harry was stripped of the titles Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington and Commodore-in-Chief of Small Ships and Diving for the Royal Navy, Newsweek reported. Still, Harry has continued to be a vocal supporter of military veterans.

Meghan Markle, a former American actress, became the Duchess of Sussex when she married Harry in May 2018 at Windsor Castle. The couple welcomed a son named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor in 2019.

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(L-R) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and CWO5 Stephen Rudinski, Valor Award recipient attend the 2021 Salute To Freedom Gala at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on November 10, 2021 in New York City.

(L-R) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and CWO5 Stephen Rudinski, Valor Award recipient attend the 2021 Salute To Freedom Gala at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on November 10, 2021 in New York City.
(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s departures from royal duties began in 2020 over what they described as the British media’s intrusions and racist attitudes towards the former “Suits” star, 40. The family now resides in the coastal city of Montecito, California.

In the wake of quitting royal duties, they gave an explosive TV interview to Oprah Winfrey in March, in which the couple described painful comments about how dark Archie’s skin might be before his birth. The duchess talked about the intense isolation she felt inside the royal family that led her to contemplate suicide.

Buckingham Palace said the allegations of racism made by the couple were “concerning” and would be addressed privately.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex reside in California with their two children.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex reside in California with their two children.
(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

On June 4, the couple welcomed their second child, a daughter named Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. The name pays tribute to both Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, whose family nickname is Lilibet, and his late mother, Princess Diana.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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