James Wharton: Prince Harry Defends Gay Man in the Military and Sets An Example

The British monarchy may not be what runs Britain’s political system but we all can agree that it is indeed an entity that has some noteworthy power in respect to its social influence.

This week, the focus is on Prince Harry who reportedly was responsible for defending an openly gay soldier from an attack by fellow military men in 2008. Trooper James Wharton, the man who credits the prince for saving his life, speaks of the incident in his new book Out In The Army.

Wharton, who was Prince Harry’s former squadmate, recounts his story about how he approached the prince to alert him that six soldiers had threatened to beat him. “I think I'm about to be murdered by the infantry” Wharton said. In response, Prince Harry stormed toward the soldiers stating “[r]ight, I’m going to sort this sh*t out once and for all.” After reprimanding the men, the prince reportedly notified a senior officer and returned to Wharton to assure him that the situation was under control.

Such incidents are not uncommon in the military. Even in the U.S., despite the repealing of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, there are still incidents of LGBT discrimination occurring in the military.

Two of the most recent have been one which occurred in April at a military ball in New York that escalated to the point that a sergeant major pushed a female officer to the floor after the sergeant commanded the officer to stop dancing with her girlfriend. An incident involving service men perpetrating anti-gay violence also erupted during Labor Day weekend outside a gay bar in Long Beach, California, where four Marines were arrested for violently beating a film student, resulting in his hospitalization. Although gay, lesbian, and bisexual military personnel have the freedom to express their identities, this does not mean the battle against discrimination is over and making the military a completely safe zone for these men and women will evidently be an ongoing process.

Prince Harry’s actions, though commendable, should not be surprising. Rather, his response to the situation should be the default reaction people have in similar situations involving a person being mistreated either physically or verbally. While people have the right to believe anything they wish, threatening a person’s well being in under no circumstances acceptable and any person witnessing such maltreatment should feel not only compelled, but obliged to take a stand against whenever possible.