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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June, 2003, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Prince Harry to be career soldier
Harry in the Eton Combined Cadet Force
Harry led Eton's cadet force on the parade ground
Prince Harry wants to become a career soldier, St James's Palace confirmed on Thursday.

On his last day of school, it was announced the 18-year-old would be applying to Sandhurst, the military academy.

The prince left Eton in Windsor, Berkshire, after sitting his last geography A-level paper.

He will need to pass both that and his other A-level - in art - to be accepted at the academy.

He will also be assessed by the Army before going before the Regular Commissions Board (RCB).

Harry excelled in the public school's Combined Cadet Force and was parade commander.

With the top rank of officer cadet, he took charge of cadets at last month's Eton Tattoo.

Prince Harry carries his belongings to a car as he leaves Eton

In the school leavers' book, he reportedly wrote Sandhurst as his "next stop" and there have been talks with the Welsh Guards about a short service commission.

Harry is expected to join the Army late next year after a pre-RCB assessment.

But first, like his brother, he will be taking a gap year.

Prince William did charity work in Chile with Operation Raleigh during his gap year before starting a degree course at St Andrews University.

On Thursday, Harry said goodbye to his housemaster Dr Andrew Gailey, who has been a surrogate parent since he started at the school in Windsor, Berkshire, when he was 13.

He was following in his older brother's footsteps when he started at Eton in 1998.

Prince Harry's final days at Eton

Unlike Prince William, he was accompanied only by his father on that first day at senior school because his mother Princess Diana had died the year before.

But he went with a picture of her, which was revealed last week in intimate pictures of his bedroom at school.

A black and white portrait of the Princess of Wales could be seen on his desk, among books, CDs and posters of pop stars.

The prince appears to have knuckled down to school work in the past year after a series of stories about his excessive partying.

In January 2002, Prince Charles ordered his younger son to attend a drug rehabilitation clinic, after Harry admitted smoking cannabis and taking part in heavy under-age drinking sessions.

Despite those problems, the young prince has distinguished himself at school in art classes and on the sports field.

He has excelled at the unique Eton Wall Game, the Field Game, football - he supports Arsenal - rugby, polo and cricket.

In his final year he was house captain of games and also enjoys swimming and athletics.

As he left school for the last time, the prince turned to photographers, threw his fists in the air and said "At last" with a grin.

The BBC's June Kelly
"Before the army, Harry will now have a gap year"

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