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May 17, 8:43 AM EDT

Prince Harry: Army kept me out of trouble

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LONDON (AP) -- Britain's Prince Harry has thanked the army for keeping him out of trouble and has called for national service to be brought back.

In an interview published in the Sunday Times, the 30-year-old prince also revealed that he's content being single and reflected on how the army gave him a chance to "escape the limelight."

"Definitely, without a doubt, it does keep you out of trouble," he said. "I dread to think where I'd be without the army."

Harry, who is completing a decade-long military career, voiced support for national service as he spoke of the transformative effects on men he knew in the army. He even encouraged his nephew and niece, George and two-week-old Charlotte, to be involved in the military one day.

"It's done no harm, just good, for me and I know it's the same for William," he said, referring to his older brother.

The prince said he hoped William and Kate's children would learn to cope with the pressures of growing up in the royal family.

Harry, who attracted hordes of enthusiastic female fans during his recent trips to New Zealand and Australia, also said he's "very happy not having a girlfriend."

Harry was speaking at the end of his weeklong visit to New Zealand. Prior to that he spent a month with the Australian army. The royal now plans to spend the summer working with animal conservation groups in Africa, which he said has been a long-held dream for him.

The royal, who is fifth in line to the throne, also commented on this week's publication of his father Prince Charles' private letters to senior government officials. Britain's government released about two dozen of the letters Wednesday after fighting for years to keep them private.

"My father never really gets listened to, which is disappointing because whatever he says normally is right, and about 10 years ahead of when the problems actually happen," Harry said.

The letter-writing was controversial because as Britain's future king, Charles is expected to remain politically neutral.

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