Her cheeky smile put her centre stage at the Invictus Games yesterday when she helped herself to a few handfuls of Prince Harry’s popcorn.
But little Emily Henson’s family would not have been surprising at how she stole the Prince’s heart – for the two-year-old has already been the inspiration behind her father’s incredible journey from tragedy in Afghanistan to Paralympic glory.
Emily is the daughter of David Henson, a former Royal Engineer who lost both of his legs in 2011 when he stood on an IED during an attempt to clear a building in Afghanistan of mines so locals could return.
Two-year-old Emily Henson charmed Prince Harry yesterday when she tucked into his popcorn during the Invictus Games
Emily is the daughter of David Henson (left) a former serviceman turned Paralympian who is a good friend of Prince Harry
Mr Henson has previously told how miracle daughter Emily was conceived through IVF after the Army took his sperm shortly after the IED blast in Afghanistan which led to his legs being amputated
As he lay in a military hospital shortly after the blast, the Army took his sperm and froze it, so that he might have children in the future if he wanted.
He later said it was not something he gave much thought to at first, but, after marrying his wife Hayley, the couple decided to try for a child through IVF and it worked first time.
In the dark days after the bomb blast, David had told Hayley she should find someone else who could make her happier than he could. But she stuck by him and he later said the birth of Emily made their relationship even stronger.
Shortly after Emily’s birth in 2015, David told the Daily Telegraph: ‘She was “with me” the day I was injured but she wasn’t born until four years later. As soon as she came along we realised what we had been missing: it was her.’
He credited the youngster with helping his recovery, telling of his joy at having someone to ‘love and care for and educate and guide’. Hayley is now pregnant again expecting the couple’s second child.
David, from Hampshire, was determined not to let his injuries stop him from living a full life and, just 10 months after the bomb blast, he put on running blades for the first time. He has not stopped running ever since.
Little Emily caught the attention of cameras last year, when the youngster put on her father’s bronze Paralympic medals when he returned home from Rio
Mr Henson has attributed the youngster with helping his road to glory and consolidating his recovery from his injuries
The 33-year-old said that having someone to ‘love and care for and educate and guide’ had given his life added purpose
Mr Henson pulled on running blades 10 months after the blast in Afghanistan and has since become a top Paralympian. He has become a close friends with Prince Harry (pictured together at the 2014 Invictus Games)
He captained the first UK team in London in 2014 and was so impressive that he went on to qualify as a competitive ‘blade runner’, wining bronze at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
He has become a big star of Harry’s Invictus Games has become a good friend of the prince, who he says sees servicemen and women as his extended family.
He said of the Prince: ‘He has friends who were injured serving their country, so it’s very personal for him.
‘You enter into a new family that way…. he has that care and devotion to his extended family. His commitment and enthusiasm are very real.’
Harry, 33, was seated with the Henson family in the stands for a sitting volleyball match between the UK v Denmark at the Invictus Games in Toronto yesterday.
Cheeky little Emily put her hand on the prince’s knee and then, seated on her mother Hayley’s lap, popped it into his popcorn and sneaked several handfuls while he was engaged talking to a man on his left.
After Mr Henson told of the couple’s joy after the birth of Emily, pictures from yesterday show his wife is pregnant again
Paying no heed to protocol, two-year-old Emily was seen diving into Harry’s popcorn box as he spoke to the man to his right
Harry then delighted Emily by making funny faces with her and sharing the popcorn throughout the event
The comical scenes went on for almost a minute before Harry noticed – and deftly pulled his snack away before pulling a silly face.
He quickly relented, though, and offered Emily a piece herself which she eagerly took – and then made her smile by jokingly shovelling some in his own mouth before it all went.
Harry then patiently entertained Emily, wearing a pretty yellow daisy print top, by pulling faces at her and even encouraging the high-spirited toddler to stick out her tongue.
He also tried to encourage her to clap at key points but the determined little toddler was having nothing of it and shook her head firmly – in the way only children do.
Proving he has everything it takes to be an indulgent dad himself, the royal patiently played with the little girl as she proudly showed him her toys, including several Paw Patrol, characters and a ‘Mountie’ bear.
After the match ended, with the UK team powering their way through to the finals, Harry gave Emily a cuddle goodbye and headed off for some meetings.
Harry, who is a doting uncle to Prince George and Princess Charlotte, was enamored with the little girl
Harry indulged the two-year-old toddler as she proudly showed him her toys and teddy bears