Prince Harry evoked the memory of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, yesterday in a touching tribute to an injured veteran.
Prince Harry, who has been working with veterans for years, enjoyed a poignant moment when he shared an emotional embrace with a veteran who had just completed a marathon hike.
US Marine Kirstie Ennis was on the receiving end of the hug, after she gifted the Prince a final, meaningful memento of her journey: the dogtags of her fallen colleague.
Kirstie was at Buckingham Palace to end her momentous journey which saw her trek over 1,000 miles (or 1,609 kilometres) to honour fallen veterans.
Kirstie, who is due to have her leg amputated later this year, started her journey in Dufftown, Scotland, on August 22nd and placed the dogtags of a fallen veteran every 65 kilometres.
Her final 65 kilometres landed her at the gates of Buckingham Palace where she met Prince Harry.
Instead of placing the tags at the gates like she had planned to, the 24-year-old became “overwhelmed” by the emotional moment and pressed them into Prince Harry’s hand.
An emotional Harry attempted to refuse, saying, "No I can't, I can't accept this.”
But Kirstie was adamant, "Please, you know what this means to me, I want you to," she told him.
The tags belonged to her best friend, Corporal Baune, who was killed in 2012 by an IED.
“[He] passed away just 10 days before my helicopter went down and I was injured and the two guys who got blown up with him, Brad and Chris, and are missing their legs now have been part of my own support network in dealing with my own injuries," Kirstie explained.
"They were my rocks for a long time, we grew together in hospital. His wife, Colleen, is absolutely amazing. He was just 21,” she said.
"I look at situations like that, he never came home, he had a wife and a family but he never came home. The six of us here today did come home, we are actually the lucky ones. The least we can do is share their legacy and honour their memory,” said the 24-year-old.
"Harry was reluctant to accept it at first because he knows how much it means [to me]. He has helped me lay a couple of them and was hesitant to take them as he knows how much it means to me. I told him he had to."
As for the ending of her journey, Ennis admitted it was “bittersweet”.
"It was quite painful and there is nothing you can do to prepare for that, even when you are able-bodied, much less when you have debilitating injuries. It was quite the challenge. I have never felt so disabled in my life at times,” she said.
"But to say that we have done it now, it is a great feeling. We have pushed our limits. I have been here for three months and a huge part of me will be left here when I return home."
Harry joined Kirstie on her walk for 17 miles and laid several tags with her in October.
It seems Prince Harry has taken the words of his late mother to heart.
“Hugs can do a great amount of good" - Diana, Princess of Wales.