Prince Harry appeared on BBC's The One Show to talk about veterans overcoming life-changing injuries

By Simon Perry
May 11, 2020 03:35 PM

Prince Harry took part in a special broadcast on Monday evening in the U.K. to highlight the efforts being made to support injured veterans.

Speaking via video link to the BBC's The One Show, he brought together two sets of veterans and their families to mark the moment that WWII ended in Europe 75 years ago.

Maggie Wilson, widow of airman Sandy Saunders — who received severe burns to his face when he crashed his Tiger Moth plane in the latter part of WWII — told Harry how Saunders had been treated by pioneering reconstructive surgeon Archibald McIndoe. She said McIndoe told her late husband, " 'You need new upper eyelids, new lower eyelids. You need a proper nose, I'll give you a mouth so you can kiss the girls!' That's what happened."

Prince Harry
BBC The One/Twitter

Harry smiled and said, "That's unbelievable. So when you met him, can I ask, he had a proper nose and good lips for kissing?" She answered, "Oh, definitely good lips for kissing."

"I love that," Harry replied.

Saunders was one of the men who helped form The Guinea Pig Club, which was set up for air force veterans who had been burned in their planes. The Guinea Pig Club were men who became known as "unexpected survivors," and the medical care they received served to bring about treatments for life-changing injuries in the field that are still used today. The name of the club of veterans stems from their willingness to undergo experimental treatments. Also on the call was Andy Perry, who told Harry of another ex-GPC member, his father Jack Perry.

The GPC has inspired a modern-day version, called the CASEVAC Club, for those who were medically evacuated during the Afghanistan War. It was set up by two veterans who are close to Harry: David Wiseman and Dave Henson, who also joined the call.

Prince Harry
Chris Jackson/Getty

Wiseman told The One Show, "There are guys from the CASEVAC Club who are walking around today, [and] it's only thanks to advances in battlefield medicine that they survived their injuries. Again, offering our bodies up...we can help advance understanding about traumatic injury and help people in the future."

Harry said, "It's so important to remember the Guinea Pig Club and to look forward to everything that the CASEVA Club is going to achieve as well. Those individuals that signed up, chose to serve and then had life-changing injuries, they don't stop there. That's why it's incredibly impressive and yet at the same time so incredibly uplifting."

Archie, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Can’t get enough of PEOPLE‘s Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

Harry was asked by the BBC show to highlight a veterans' cause to mark the VE Day anniversary. This week, Harry would have been in The Netherlands at the Invictus Games, his Paralympic-style contest for wounded, injured and service members. However, it was canceled due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Duke of Sussex called the show from his home in Los Angeles, where he is isolating along with wife Meghan Markle and son Archie, who turned 1 last week.

Queen Elizabeth
Royal Family/Twitter

On Friday, Harry's grandmother Queen Elizabeth led the U.K. in commemorating the anniversary of the end of WWII, saying, "Today it may seem hard that we cannot mark this special anniversary as we would wish," she said. "Instead, we remember from our homes and our doorsteps. But our streets are not empty; they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other."

The monarch, 94, continued, "When I look at our country today and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognize and admire."