One of Britain’s best-known servicemen, Prince Harry, viewed some poignant photos taken by rocker Bryan Adams as Britain remembered its lost soldiers Tuesday.
With his nation honoring Armistice Day, notably veterans from World War I – and many citizens donning symbolic red poppies and observing two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. – Harry honored the day with a visit to the photo exhibition of wounded service personnel at London’s grand Somerset House.
The “Summer of ’69” singer’s pictures captured the dignity of subjects who had suffered life-changing injuries while on military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, as this NBC News slideshow depicts.
Harry, an Army captain in the Blues and Royals who has done two tours to Afghanistan, visited the country on Sunday to pay his respects as part of the memorials. There he met and joked with many of the wounded soldiers who took part.
Among them were members of the British Armed Forces team in the Invictus Games and, typically, Harry had the veterans laughing as he revealed that during his visit to Afghanistan Sunday, some members of the RAF had collapsed.
“The visit [to Afghanistan] was great. Fourteen people collapsed, though, during the ceremony, and it was only 12 degrees heat,” Harry joked. “But they were from the RAF so that’s acceptable.”
Sgt. Rick Clement, who lost both his legs when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan, laughed when Harry told him: “At least your hair has grown back.”
British TV journalist Caroline Froggatt came up with the idea to approach Adams, 55, about producing portraits of those injured during the war.
“Rehabilitation doesn’t end at the hospital. It’s an ongoing process, and I’m delighted that for some of the guys and girls in these portraits, actually sitting for them helped re-evaluate how they saw themselves,” Adams said of his photos.
Father-of-three Mark Ormrod, 31, from Plymouth, struggled with self-confidence after he lost both legs and his right arm after stepping on an IED on Christmas Eve in 2007.
“But I was really pleased when I saw the portrait – in my head I looked a lot worse,” he said. “I was the first one to have my picture taken, and I think Bryan was worried about offending me when he asked me to take my shorts off.”
Added Ormrod: “As a former Marine I’m not scared of getting naked in public. I was a bit gutted though I was wearing rubbish pants. They were just from a M&S box set, and I just wish I’d worn my Calvin Kleins! At least they weren’t see-through.”
Proceeds from the exhibition’s accompanying book will go to various veteran support charities and War Child, the U.K. charity devoted to protecting children in war zones.