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Prince Harry Wears His Medals to Present Soldier of the Year Award in Special Virtual Appearance



The Duke of Sussex presented Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks with the honor during a video appearance on April 25

Prince Harry is honoring a special member of the armed forces community.

On Wednesday, April 24, the Duke of Sussex, 39, paid tribute to his “friend” Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks as he presented her with the prestigious Military Times Soldier of the Year Award.

Speaking in a virtual appearance, which appeared to have been filmed in the backyard of his Montecito, Calif., home, Harry wore four medals on his chest as he described Marks as a “beacon of inspiration.”

“I first met Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks at the Invictus Games in Orlando 2016, where I presented her with not one, but four gold medals that she’d won in swimming,” Harry’s speech began. “To me, she epitomizes the courage, resilience and determination represented across our service community. And this is not just because of her swimming abilities.”

“Ellie has courageously overcome every obstacle to cross her path,” he continued. “She has turned her pain into purpose and led through compassion and willpower, showing others that the impossible is indeed possible.”


According to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s official website, the combat medic — who joined the U.S. Army in 2008 at the age of 17 — has faced “significant challenges” in her career, including bilateral hip injuries “which would shape the rest of her trajectory in the Army.”

“Despite the injuries she endured during her deployment as a medical assistant in Iraq – along with numerous surgeries and setbacks that would have deterred many – she has persevered tirelessly, becoming the first woman in the Army’s world-class athlete program, as well as the first swimmer the program had ever seen,” Harry explained.

“She’s also taken her recovery a step further, using her experiences and achievements to inspire and assist others in their mental and physical journey into sport, ensuring those who can’t see a way out or  through are introduced to the medicine of sport that saved her too.”

The Duke then went on to praise Marks for the support she has shown to the Invictus Games, which he founded in 2014, including coaching teams from both Ukraine and Colombia “when they’ve needed it the most.”

“Ellie, you embody the Invictus spirit through your selfless service. You know that sport doesn’t just save lives, it transforms them for the better, and in finding your own cure you’ve helped countless brothers and sisters in staying alive. You’re unwavering commitment serves as a beacon of inspiration, offering hope and setting a powerful example for others to follow,” he continued, adding, “I am honored to call you my friend and can’t thank you enough for being you.”

Harry served in the military for 10 years and undertook two tours of Afghanistan during that time. He first served in Helmand Province in 2007 and 2008, before later returning for a second tour in 2012.


His medals include the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan, which is awarded to those who served in active duty in Afghanistan, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal.


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