By Martin Robinson Chief Reporter and Harriet Alexander For Dailymail.com
04:03 14 Jun 2023, updated 04:39 14 Jun 2023
- Prince Harry was in San Diego on Monday for the final day of the Warrior Games, an annual competition for injured active-duty and veteran service members
- The 38-year-old was seated next to General Gary Brito, the Commanding General of the Army Training and Doctrine Command
- He was also seen chatting to Master Sergeant Michael Haley, one of 40 selected to represent Team Army
Prince Harry was pictured chatting to the general in charge of Army training on Monday, sitting ringside to watch US veterans competing at the Warrior Games.
The 38-year-old traveled to San Diego for his first public appearance since his phone-hacking trial in the UK.
The Duke of Sussex was seen grinning and chatting as he cheered on servicemen and women competing in events similar to his own Invictus Games.
He was seen at one point gesturing across the arena as General Gary Brito, the Commanding General of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, looked on.
The royal also spoke animatedly to families, volunteers and staff – and was obviously cracking jokes to those sitting around him at the event in southern California.
Harry was pictured in a deep discussion with Master Sergeant Michael Haley, one of 40 injured veterans and active-duty service members selected to represent Team Army.
Later he looked relaxed as he posed with veteran gold medal winners from the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
Teams from the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and SOCOM have been competing in sports including archery, cycling, golf, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. Harry is a self-confessed rugby fanatic.
It is the first time Harry has been seen in public since he returned from London where he gave evidence at the High Court in his phone-hacking trial against Mirror Group Newspapers. He was the first royal to testify in court for more than a century – and returned to Montecito on Friday.
Harry’s own Invictus Games, which he set up in 2014, takes place in Düsseldorf in September.
The event provides an opportunity for those who have suffered illness or injury during or as a result of their service to compete in a sporting events against other nations.
But earlier this year the charity event’s organizers were urged to distance themselves from Prince Harry after his ‘insensitive’ Taliban revelations in Spare.
Renowned publicist Lynne Franks said the Duke of Sussex’s decision to share that he killed 25 soldiers while serving in Afghanistan ‘made him look a complete idiot’.
Harry’s claims, including that he regarded Taliban fighters as ‘chess pieces’ during operations, prompted anger from the Armed Forces community who accused the duke of bad etiquette.
Ben McBean, the former Royal Marine and friend of the prince, said such comments were unwise. Others said Harry had put people at risk.
His appearance in San Diego came as the Department of Homeland Security has until today to respond to a legal claim to make Harry’s US visa paperwork public because it may show he lied about his drug use.
The claims were aired at the US District Court in Washington last week, 3,000 miles away from the High Court in London where he gave evidence hours earlier in the trial he has brought against the Daily Mirror’s publisher.
The case relates to the Duke of Sussex’s US visa application in March 2020, which could show he ticked the ‘no’ box on questions about his drug use.
Harry has admitted to using cocaine, marijuana and hallucinogens in his best-selling memoir ‘Spare’ and his Netflix TV series.
If Harry is found to have lied on his visa forms then he could be removed from the US.
The allegations were made by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, which is seeking the release of the documents from the Department of Homeland Security under America’s Freedom of Information law.
Samuel Dewey, the lead lawyer for the Heritage Foundation, said the case could take months.
The next stage would be arguing whether or not the documents themselves should be released.
Mr Dewey criticised the ‘frankly frivolous anti-transparency position’ of President Joe Biden’s administration.
In court filings the Heritage Foundation focused on two questions on the DS160 visa application form.
The first asks: ‘Have you ever been a drug abuser or addict?’
The second asks: ‘Have you ever violated, or engaged in a conspiracy to violate, any law relating to controlled substances?’
The Heritage Foundation, one of the most influential conservative think-tanks in Washington, argues that Harry’s admissions about his drug use meant he should have ticked ‘yes’.
The Freedom of Information (FoI) application was filed by Nile Gardiner, director of the foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.
The US Department of Homeland Security initially rejected the FoI as, due to the personal nature of the information, it required Harry’s permission and he had not given it.
Immigration experts have said that Harry’s admissions could lead to him being denied entry into the US by any border agent.
During last Tuesday’s hour-long hearing, Judge Carl Nicholas gave the Department of Homeland Security a week to decide whether or not the case should be expedited.
A spokesman for Harry said they would not be making any comment ‘at this time’.
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