The young royal visits with cadets – and hones his shot – at West Point

By Kristina Dell
Updated June 26, 2010 01:30 PM
Credit: EPA/Landov

Prince Harry spent his first few hours in New York on Friday visiting with some of the people he admires most: young cadets at West Point. The prince arrived by helicopter just after 1:30 p.m. and kicked off his three-day trip to the Big Apple with some live-fire exercises on the artillery range.

Trading his baby blue beret for a helmet, Harry and a team of West Point cadets fired M-4 assault rifles at pop-up silhouette targets from 15 to 300 meters away. Harry’s experience serving on the frontlines in Afghanistan as an air controller for 10 weeks in 2008 – a media leak forced him to head home – has helped him hone his shot.

“He clearly knows what he’s doing,” said Col. Casey Haskins, who indicated that Harry hit multiple “enemy” targets, successfully avoiding all the “friendly” ones. “He clearly knows how to shoot. He clearly knows how to move.”

After practicing for more than 10 minutes, the redheaded royal, who is third in line for the British throne, took off his helmet and stuck out his tongue, hamming it up in the summer heat. He then followed a combat exercise in the woods, but didn’t participate. Later, while posing for photos with cadets, Harry was asked to prop his weapon up higher and responded, “Are you serious?” Kidding, he quickly obliged.

But this weekend, Harry is doing more than practicing his shot. He’s focusing on helping veterans, playing a little polo at the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic and raising money for the U.S. arm of his charity, American Friends of Sentebale, which he co-founded with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, Africa in honor of their mothers. The charity gives money to needy children in Lesotho and helps combat the AIDS crisis.

This is a return trip to New York for Harry, having taken a two-day tour last year.