Top gun Prince Harry's 120-mile trek for beer and a burger in California

Saturday, October 8, 2011

By Katie Nicholl

He had just landed in California, ready to undertake the final stage of his Apache helicopter training.

So when Prince Harry decided he fancied a beer and a burger before getting down to business, he and three friends drove to the nearest watering hole... a mere 120 miles away.

The 27-year-old Royal and his colleagues from RAF Wattisham arrived at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro on Thursday.

Service with a smile: Waitress Leah Bentley (left) served Harry and his friends

The next day, the four friends – plus Harry's Royal protection officers – headed off to the famed McP's Irish Pub on the island of Coronado, near San Diego.

The Prince relaxed and chatted happily to locals, even taking a photograph for a couple due to marry yesterday.

Harry, who had asked to be seated at an outside table, was served by 32-year-old waitress Leah Bentley, from San Diego.

She said: 'Harry and his friends were really nice. It took me a minute before I realised who he was. I bantered with him and tried to treat him like any other customer. He and his friends were very good-looking and were nice tippers.

'He didn't flirt with me – but I wouldn't have minded if he had.'

The Prince and his friends enjoyed an hour-long meal and when fellow diners recognised him, some asked for a photo.

Royal approval: Prince Harry took a photo of Victor Swircz, who later tweeted about their encounter

Harry obliged and also got behind the camera to take a snap of Victor Swircz and his fiancee Laurie on the eve of their wedding.

Victor later tweeted: 'Seriously I'm not joking. I just met Prince Harry and shook his hand @ McP's in Coronado!!' McP's is the only Irish pub on the island of Coronado, which is the home of the US Navy SEALs.

Arrival: Prince Harry lands at U.S. airbase at El Centro, he will be training for two months - and be treated like any of the other students

Veteran: Prince Harry has served in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan

The bar is owned by a former SEAL and so was an ideal venue for Harry, who was enjoying time out before he starts his two-month training programme, known as Exercise Crimson Eagle.

His time will be split between El Centro, close to the border of Mexico, and Gila Bend in Arizona – and he will then become a fully qualified Apache pilot.

A spokesman for the Prince said yesterday: 'Harry has a bit of down-time on the course, which he will spend privately with his course mates.'


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