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Father of British soldier who protected Harry in Afghanistan condemns his decision to step down

11 Jan 2020 Daily Mail Online

The father of a British soldier who protected Prince Harry on the front line in Afghanistan and later took his own life after developing post-traumatic stress disorder has accused the Duke of Sussex of ‘abandoning his Army family’.

Derek Hunt, whose son Nathan found Taliban bombs that could have maimed or killed Harry, said his decision to suddenly ‘step back’ from Royal duties was a ‘slap in the face’ for those who risked their lives alongside him.

Warrant Officer Hunt was awarded a Mention in Dispatches for saving his comrades by finding improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in 2008.

The father of British soldier Nathan Hunt (circled bottom) who protected Prince Harry (circled top) on the front line in Afghanistan and later took his own life after developing post-traumatic stress disorder has accused the Duke of Sussex of ‘abandoning his Army family’

He and Harry became friends while serving in Helmand province. The Prince, who did two tours in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2008, sent a letter of condolence to WO Hunt’s parents after his death aged 39 and later met them. Harry has won plaudits for his work to raise the issue of mental health, including among members of the Armed Forces. He also created the Invictus Games, an international multi-sport event for wounded, injured or sick military personnel and veterans.

Last night Mr Hunt told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I’m truly staggered. I can’t help feeling he’s abandoning the Royal Family and slapping everyone in the face, including those he fought with and my son.

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‘Nathan kept Prince Harry alive in Afghanistan. He’d have been blown up had my son not found those IEDs. After everything they went through together, I think it is terrible to see him turning his back on everyone.

‘We all thought Harry really understood what life is like for veterans and their families, as if he was one of us and by our side – but he’s shattered that impression now. It’s like he’s lost his spark, like he’s not the same person.’

Nathan and Harry became friends while serving in Helmand province. The Prince, who did two tours in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2008, sent a letter of condolence to WO Hunt’s parents after his death aged 39 and later met them. Pictured: Prince Harry in Afghanistan

Recalling Nathan’s valour, Mr Hunt, who served for 22 years in the Army, said: ‘Prince Harry and Nathan were in a desert reconnaissance unit in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly their commander received an order to escort Harry back to base as quickly as possible.

‘On the way, Nathan made a huge call, which in hindsight probably saved Harry’s life, vetoing a route proposed by a senior officer which would have meant driving through a Taliban minefield.’

The criticism will surely come as a hammer blow to Harry who, after service in Helmand, returned to the war zone as a helicopter pilot before leaving the Army in 2015.

The Duke and Duchess’s withdrawal has led to questions over their future involvement in organisations that they support.

The Duke and Duchess’s withdrawal has led to questions over their future involvement in organisations that they support. Pictured: Harry and Meghan earlier this week

Between them, the couple are patrons of 18 organisations. They insist they want to honour their commitments but it is unclear how much time they will have to devote to their chosen causes.

Some have called for them to step aside. Annabel Duncan-Smith, who like Meghan is a patron of the National Theatre, said: ‘If you’re not able to commit to the job, you should let someone else have a go.’

A spokesman for the National Theatre confirmed Meghan would remain as patron and that it was ‘very much looking forward to continuing our work with her’.

Prince Harry is patron of the Rugby Football League and will host the draw for the World Cup at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

Original Link: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7876723/Father-British-soldier-protected-Harry-Afghanistan-condemns-decision-step-down.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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