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24 September 2014

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The young royals: Prince Harry
Prince Harry with brother William and  his father Prince Charles
Prince Harry was only 12 when his mother Princess Diana died

He is known by all as Prince Harry but the second son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was christened Henry Charles Albert David Windsor.

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Prince Harry was born on September 13, 1984, at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.

More extrovert than his elder brother, he carried out his first public engagement at the age of just eight when he joined his mother on a visit to the base of the Light Dragoons in Germany, enthusiastic at the prospect of donning uniform.

Prince Harry joins other family members  in the procession at  Princess Diana's funeral
Royal watchers were impressed with Harry's bravery at Diana's funeral

Harry was just short of his 13th birthday when, on the evening of 30 August 1997, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris.

At her funeral in London, Harry joined his 15-year-old brother and the other men of the family to walk behind the cortege.

Harry has to a certain extent always been in the shadow of his brother, who is second in line to the throne behind the Prince of Wales.

But Diana's death appeared to cement a strong bond between Harry and his father, with whom he is now said to be very close.

Like his elder brother he is a keen sportsman, and has joined William and his father at polo at Cirencester Park, near Highgrove. Indeed he was expected to spend some of his gap year playing polo professionally.

Major Mark McCann, chairman of the British Forces Foundation Team, who plays with the Prince, says that if he worked hard, there is no reason why Harry couldn't join the elite group of 100 professional polo players in Britain.

"He has got a great eye for the ball, he is young, he rides well and has natural talent," he said.

Prince Harry joins other family members  in the procession at  Princess Diana's funeral
Harry is sporty and loves skiing

Harry's other favourite sports are skiing and shooting but his fearless nature has sometimes attracted criticism.

Photographs in a Sunday newspaper in 1998 of Harry abseiling head-first down a dam revealed his fearless nature - but caused serious concern for his safety.

He was not wearing a helmet or a back-up rope, and climbing experts described the incident as foolhardy.

The devil-may-care streak in Prince Harry's nature got him into trouble of a different kind after reports that that he had smoked cannabis and drunk alcohol to excess before his 18th birthday.

The drug-taking and drinking is understood to have happened over a two-month period in the summer of 2001, when Prince Harry was 16 and Charles and William were both away from Highgrove.

He reportedly drank at the Rattlebone Inn pub near Highgrove and smoked a joint at one of the frequent after-hours parties he held back at the estate.

Prince Harry with his mother Princess Diana
Prince Harry is said to be more like his mother than William

St James's Palace confirmed the prince had "experimented with cannabis on several occasions", but stressed his use of the drug could not be described as "regular".

His father reportedly sent him to a drug rehabilitation clinic for a day to shock him after the incidents.

But Prince Harry entered his adult years with a new maturity - demonstrating his close bond with his mother Diana, whom he is said to resemble in nature more closely than William, who inherited her looks.

For his 18th birthday, instead of a lavish birthday party, Harry visited hospital patients and the homeless, and worked on schemes involving young offenders and health improvements in the developing world.

News of the World front page
Harry's drug-taking was exposed in the News of the World

He knuckled down to school work at Eton after the press reports about his excessive partying, and it was revealed as he left Eton for a gap year in June 2003 that he wants to become a career soldier.

On his last day of school, St James's Palace announced the 18-year-old would be applying to Sandhurst, the military academy - another sign that he is determined to pursue his own way as royals traditionally spend their military service with the Navy not the Army.

At Eton the young prince, while not academically accomplished, distinguished himself in art classes and on the sports field.

He excelled at the unique Eton Wall Game, football - he supports Arsenal - rugby, polo and cricket and in his final year he was house captain of games and also enjoys swimming and athletics.

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