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Prince Harry attends the "Crystal Ball" Gala dinner for Walking with the Wounded

30th May 2013

Prince Harry meets the Stereophonics at the "Crystal Ball" Gala Dinner

Prince Harry urged people not to forget about the thousands of servicemen and women who have come back from war zones with life-changing injuries as he spoke at an event in central London.

The 28-year-old, who returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan in January, told a charity fundraising ball that the country was "duty bound" to help wounded personnel.

Prince Harry, known as Captain Wales in the Army, said: "For every life taken, which is about 450 in Afghanistan, about 4,000 are injured and that's what we don't hear about.

"Arms, legs that will never grow back as well as mental injuries - the image of your best friend being blown up next to you, that's something that will never leave you."

The Apache co-pilot gunner was speaking to an audience of 340 people at the Walking With The Wounded Crystal Ball, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London.

Prince Harry is Patron of the charity's expedition to the South Pole in November and December this year, and has already pledged to take part in the UK's Team Glenfiddich.

In 2012 he joined a team of injured soldiers for five days of a successful trek to the North Pole.

Prince Harry with members of Team Glenfiddich, Ibrar Ali, Kate Philp, Duncan Slater and Guy Disney, who will participate in Walking with the Wounded's South Pole Allied Challenge 2013

Prince Harry with members of Team Glenfiddich, Ibrar Ali, Kate Philp, Duncan Slater and Guy Disney, who will participate in Walking with the Wounded's South Pole Allied Challenge 2013

Prince Harry said in a pre-dinner speech: "We are duty bound to assist and help when we can.

"Afghanistan will become old news, it's barely on the news now so imagine what it's going to be like in two, three, four, five years' time. Afghanistan will be forgotten to a certain extent and these guys will be forgotten.

"But with Walking With the Wounded, Help for Heroes, et cetera, and with all that help we're here to make sure that doesn't happen."

The Walking With The Wounded expedition will pit three teams of injured servicemen and women against each other in a race to the bottom of the world.

The military personnel all have either physical or cognitive injuries sustained in the line of duty, and the teams will represent and raise funds for military charities: the Soldier On charities from Canada and Australia (Commonwealth team); Soldiers to Summits (United States team); and Walking with the Wounded (UK team).

They will race across three degrees - covering around 335kms (208 miles) - of the Antarctic to the geographic South Pole.

One of the guests at the ball was four-time Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent, who last year trekked 120 miles in Antarctica with three injured soldiers to raise £1.5 million.

"We did something similar to what these guys have got coming up," Pinsent said. "I told him (Harry): 'Watch out for the food'.

And he said: 'I really like the food,' and he was obviously quite up for the boil-in-the-bag rations.

"He seems really excited. I don't think he's the kind of guy that's going to say he's going to do something and then drop out.

"It's obviously something he really wants to do."