Corporal Phil Eaglesham first met Prince Harry in 2014, the same year the 35-year-old Royal Marine tried to take his own life.Eaglesham, of Taunton, Somerset, who is married with three boys aged 13, 10 and six, was just days from finishing his second tour of Afghanistan in 2010 when he contracted Q Fever, a rare bacterial infection caused by spores in the earth being kicked up in heavy fighting.It had already been a brutal tour for his unit, 40 Commando, who were posted in Sangin – at the time the most dangerous district in Afghanistan – with 14 killed including some of Corporal Eaglesham’s close friends.When he eventually made it back to England he was so weakened by his illness that he couldn’t lift up his newborn son. Phillip Eaglesham Credit:Diarmuid Greene There are images of him tanned and posing in his body armour, others where he stares straight down the scope of his sniper rifle. He even has one of him immediately after the grenade blast, blood streaming down the back of his charred trousers.But there is one photograph above all that he cherishes: him and Prince Harry together, grinning and laughing.“It was an honour to meet him and see how much he cares,” he says. “He is definitely a torch in the darkness.” The debilitating condition, for which there is no prognosis, has left him confined to a motorised wheelchair. His wife, Julie, has become a full-time carer helping him wash and get dressed.“It’s been going downhill ever since,” he says. “I have had anxiety and depression because of not being able to do things that I previously could. I can’t chew steak. I can’t play outside with my children.”Beyond the physical toll, the mental strain has been near impossible to bear to the point where he made a suicide attempt. But following his first meeting with Prince Harry at the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre, Corporal Eaglesham has slowly opened up about his problems.In 2016 he competed in the shooting at the Rio Paralympics and has recently appeared on stage alongside the prince at an event promoting greater understanding of mental health in the Armed Forces. “It’s hard to put into words how much it means to just have someone speaking out for us who really knows,” he says. The prince has called for a greater understanding of the myriad mental issues caused by war, rather than just lumping everything under the banner of PTSD.“It’s more than we would like to admit who are suffering,” says Corporal Eaglesham, who leaves the Royal Marines this July. “I have a lot of friends with issues and I know there are a lot still out there who aren’t getting help.”In January this year Prince Harry visited Tedworth House, a recovery centre in the Wiltshire countryside run by the charity Help for Heroes. While the pair did not cross paths in Afghanistan – where the young royal served two operational tours during his 10-year Army career – he says they fought in a lot of the same places.“He’s walked the steps we’ve walked and seen the things we’ve seen and lived with it daily himself,” he says. Since leaving the Army in 2015, Prince Harry has championed the need to remove stigma around the mental health of veterans. Through his campaigning work he has met countless former and serving Armed Forces personnel, often in behind the scenes visits including volunteering at the Army’s Personnel Recovery Unit in London.As he admits in the Telegraph interview, their harrowing stories have left their mark: a young girl he met who had recently tried to commit suicide, a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferer shaking so badly he was unable to speak, and another soldier so deafened by a grenade blast that he is forced to sleep each night with a speaker in his bedroom playing the sound of rain and thunderstorms on a loop.But in the process Prince Harry has become a figurehead for veterans from all walks of life, inspiring those who bear the mental and physical scars of war.A 2014 report by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research found PTSD rates of around four per cent in Britain’s Armed Forces (rising to 6.9 per cent for those deployed in combat roles).Last September, the charity Combat Stress said it was treating more than 1,300 veterans of Afghanistan for illnesses including PTSD, depression and anxiety, up 34 per cent from the previous year. Phillip EagleshamCredit:Diarmuid Greene Mike Day continues to battle the “demons” that followed him home from the Middle East and he remains unable to currently hold down a job.But having the support and understanding of such a high profile advocate as Prince Harry has, he says, been a huge help in readjusting to society.“I look at Harry as a peer and a mentor,” he says. “Speaking about war used to be a taboo and Harry is changing that.”Like many young soldiers in the modern era, Day keeps on his laptop countless photographs of his time in Afghanistan. Among those present was Mike Day, a 34-year-old former sniper section commander who served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan. He recalls chatting to the prince for 10 minutes or so, joking about Army life as well as the challenge of overcoming mental and physical injuries sustained in Helmand Province.As the prince has stressed in today’s interview, often he believes it takes the “dark sense of humour” developed by somebody who has served in the military to allow soldiers to open up.For Mike Day, the moment that would change his life came during an early morning patrol deep in Helmand’s green zone on August 23, 2009. Just the previous day he had been knocked unconscious in an IED blast which “nearly killed” three fellow soldiers.This time he was not to be so lucky when a grenade exploded in his path. Day came to in an irrigation ditch with a cracked spine and shrapnel implanted in his temple as well as lacerating his legs and buttocks. In Prince Harry (who he has met four times in total) Corporal Eaglesham recognises a brother-in-arms. Show more He was evacuated out and flown to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham where metal rods and chains were inserted into his back. It was only a few weeks after he had returned home from hospital when the full extent of his injuries became clear.“I would wake up in the night in hot sweats,” he recalls. “Sometimes I would dive under the bed in my sleep. I didn’t really address it until I woke up with my both my hands around my partner’s neck. Then we realised I had to get help.”Day, who lives in Somerset and has three children Chloe, 13, Phoebe, 11 and Obi, four, was eventually diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD and in 2013 was medically discharged from the Army.Being told he could no longer do the job he loved since signing up at 16 was his lowest moment. “Everything fell off a cliff,” he says. Phillip EagleshamCredit:Diarmuid Greene Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? 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