Prince Harry has a date with the wide-open sky—and John Travolta.
The 39-year-old, who moved to California with wife Meghan Markle after exiting his role as a working royal in 2020, will be honored on January 19 as one of four inductees into the ranks of the Living Legends of Aviation. The ceremony will be held in Beverly Hills, California, and is set to be hosted by Travolta.
Harry served as a helicopter pilot in the British Army for a decade, including two tours of Afghanistan, as well as training flights in the UK, US, and Australia. He was good at it, too: During his training, he won a prize for being the best co-pilot gunner. He officially left the British Army in 2015 with the rank of captain, and continues to work with active service personnel, veterans, and their families through his Invictus Games competition and more efforts.
Harry’s fellow honorees include Navy pilot Fred George, CAE president Marc Parent, and aviator Steve Hinton. Lauren Sánchez will also receive a special honor, the “Elling Halvorson Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award.”
Travolta, 69, has been a licensed pilot since he was 22. In addition to their shared love of flying, Travolta and Harry have another special link: In 1985, Travolta danced with Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, at a dinner at Ronald Reagan’s White House, a moment etched forever on pop culture history. In 2016, Travolta himself called dancing with Diana “one of the highlights of my life” and “probably the best moment of the ’80s.” In 2019, he added to the mythology:
“I didn’t know until I got there that I was supposed to dance with her,” he said. “[Princess Diana] kept that a secret when she met me. She didn’t know that Nancy Reagan hadn’t told me yet that this was the plan—that I was the Prince Charming of the evening.”
He continued, “I was awestruck with her. She led the way, and I thought, Well, that’s not going to happen! I’ve got to go back to my school days of learning ballroom dancing and show that I can lead her.”
Harry, just a toddler when his mother took her iconic turn in that black velvet Victor Edelstein dress at the White House, was only 12 when his mother died. In the 2023 Netflix docuseries The Heart of Invictus, he said that upon returning from his second tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2012 he experienced an “unraveling” of mental health issues and trauma related to that loss.
“The stuff that was coming up was from 1997, from the age of 12, losing my mum at such a young age, the trauma that I had I was never really aware of, it was never discussed,” he said. “I didn’t really talk about it. I suppressed it like most youngsters would have done—but then when it all came fizzing out I was bouncing off the walls, I was like, ‘What is going on here? I am now feeling everything as opposed to being numb.’”
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