It’s Harry squared!
Prince Harry — fresh from helping his grandmother Queen Elizabeth host the Spanish royals during their state visit — and singer Harry Styles joined forces in London’s West End on Thursday at the world premiere of the new WWII movie Dunkirk.
Dunkirk, which hits theaters on July 21, is directed by Dark Knight‘s Christopher Nolan and features Styles in his debut feature acting role, along with Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy. Prince Harry congratulated the stars of the film, telling them, “It’s a story that needed to be told.”
Joining the stars at the glamorous premiere were veterans from the astonishing real-life Dunkirk evacuation during WWII, which saw more than 300,000 British troops rescued from beaches around the French town in early summer 1940. The troops had been stranded by advancing German troops and endured a terrifying onslaught for days on end. A massive relief effort was launched using the Navy, ferries and even a flotilla of small boats crewed by civilians to bring the men home to Britain.
Harry greeted Hardy like an old friend, but the actor downplayed their closeness: “Well, he’s the Prince. I know who he is,” Hardy told reporters afterward. “He was just asking me about my tie pin — it’s an Arab’s dagger.”
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For his part, Styles told the crowd, “I enjoyed [making the film] very much and it’s important to tell the story — I feel very lucky.” Of the physically demanding role, he said, “I’m a better swimmer than I was when I started! As difficult as it would ever get, we were so aware of what [the real-life veterans] would have gone through.”
Prince Harry, 32, and pop star Harry, 23, have come face-to-face before, when One Direction put on a show at the Royal Variety Performance in 2015.
“He did a great job,” Branagh said of Styles’s performance in the film. “He was so open. He showed up and worked hard.” The cast, he adds, “are a great bunch of boys, very honest and hard-working. Chris Nolan is an absolute stickler for hard work.”
Earlier, Prince Harry – a champion of veterans and current service members — hosted veterans from Afghanistan, Kosovo and Dunkirk at a Kensington Palace reception and then escorted three of the veterans to the premiere. The trio feature in a short film created by one of the organizations Harry supports, Contact Armed Forces, an umbrella of charities that highlights the lasting effect of war on the mental health of service members.
In the short film, 97-year-old George Wagner (who served in Dunkirk), Gemma Morgan (who served in Kosovo) and Louis Nethercott (who served in Afghanistan) share their stories and discuss the support they received when they returned home.
Meeting the group of WWII veterans from ages 96 to 100 at the Kensington Palace reception, Harry said of the film, “I hope it gets the story as accurately as possible and gives everybody only the smallest experience of what it was like for you out there.”
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When one veteran him the royal that he would understand what they had been through on the beaches by virtue of his service in Afghanistan, Prince Harry replied, “It was nothing like what you guys went through, I can assure you of that. I was one of the lucky ones. I never had to witness one of my friends being blown up.”
In a surprise for veterans, Princess Kate brought nearly 4-year-old Prince George and 2-year-old Princess Charlotte for a low-key appearance at the entrance of Kensington Palace.