Prince Harry used to be the 'royal wild child.' But now, thanks to Meghan Markle, 'he has a purpose in life'

Prince Harry, 33, may once have been considered a “a sort of wayward royal rebel,” but, according to Katie Nicholl, author of Harry: Life, Loss, and Love, he’s had a renaissance over the past few years, and become one of “the real jewels in the monarchy’s crown.”

But before being considered in such high regard, His Royal Highness had a “really tough” upbringing, first dealing with his parents’ “humiliating” separation in the public eye and then having to grieve the untimely death of his mother, Princess Diana, shortly after, with the world closely watching.

“No one has forgotten that at the age of 12, he walked behind the catafalque at his mother’s funeral,” says royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams, adding, “He has said himself that no one should be asked to do anything like that, but that he was glad that he did it.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Photo: Getty Images)

A few years later, Harry entered the British military, for which he served two tours in Afghanistan. But, as Nicholl postulates, “it was an opportunity for him to escape from his life.” Even though he was third in line to the throne at the time, he was an officer working as a forward attack controller, or what is known as a joint terminal attack controller in the U.S. military. He was at times in “such grave danger” that on “two occasions, he came within inches of driving over an IED.”

It was after he left the service that Harry’s behavior became tabloid fodder, from partying in Las Vegas to stumbling out of nightclubs. But that never stopped him from advocating for causes close to his heart, like the Invictus Games, which he launched in 2014.

Fittingly enough, it was at the annual event, a sports competition for wounded members of the armed service or veterans, that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who is now 36, made their public debut in Toronto. As Nicholl explains, “One of the things I was told about those early dates between Meghan and Harry was that they bonded immediately over their shared passion to bring about change, to make the world a better place.”

She adds that Harry met Markle “at the right time in his life. Meghan was the piece of the jigsaw that just slotted in. And I think he was blown away right from the start.” And Fitzwilliams agrees: “There is no question that he was the royal wild child. But now he has a purpose in life. He has found the woman he loves, and he is inspired by the memory of his beloved mother, Diana.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to say “I do” on Saturday, May 19, at Windsor Castle. Yahoo will cover the historic event live from London from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. BST (5 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET). Bookmark this link to follow along LIVE. 

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