Little Emily Henson stole everyone’s heart with her cute antics with Prince harry at the Invictus games. Her family will not have been surprised that 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 of mines in Afghanistan so locals could return.
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.
David 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.