Thomas & Friends: The Royal Engine will feature a special on-camera introduction from Harry for the special episode, which has been produced as part of its 75th anniversary celebrations this year.
The Duke of Sussex introduces the new program, which has a storyline that includes Harry’s father and grandmother, Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II, as animated characters.
In his introduction — which was recorded in January before his move overseas — Prince Harry is seen sitting in an armchair, reading from a book about the train’s adventures.
Set in the time when the Prince of Wales was a boy, the story sees the friendly engine taking Sir Topham Hatt, controller of the railway, to Buckingham Palace to receive an honour for distinguished service to the railway.
In the 22-minute special, the Queen’s son, a young Prince Charles, has asked that Thomas be the engine to bring Sir Topham Hatt to the mainland.
The Royal Engine will see Thomas the Tank Engine travel to London for the first time and introduce a new character, Duchess of Loughborough, who is voiced by actor Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, Pride & Prejudice).
“It is an absolute honour to have the chance to appear in the show, and I take it as a big responsibility to play Duchess, who is a lovely, warm, bubbly sort of effervescent engine that I am incredibly drawn to because she is very anxious to get things right,” Pike said.
“Since the beginning, Thomas & Friends has celebrated friendship and teamwork through storytelling, which has cultivated fan love across generations. In this milestone 75th year, we are releasing more storytelling content than ever before to engage the next generation of fans,” said Chuck Scothon, senior vice-president and general manager of infant and preschool with Mattel.
“While families are spending more time at home, we are able to offer new content to enjoy together across videos, books, apps and through music and podcasts and are thrilled Harry, the Duke of Sussex is introducing this special.”
In a statement, Prince Harry said: “Thomas the Tank Engine has been a comforting, familiar face to so many families over the last 75 years — entertaining, educating and inspiring children on important issues through exciting stories and characters.
“I certainly have fond memories of growing up with Thomas & Friends and being transported to new places through his adventures. I am very proud to have been asked to take part in this special episode. I wish Thomas & Friends a very happy anniversary,” Harry added.
Global plans for the Thomas & Friends 75th anniversary include more storytelling touchpoints than ever before with new specials and episodes, exclusive YouTube content, a birthday music album, podcasts for kids in the form of audio stories and all-new book titles along with exciting new partnerships where Thomas & Friends will show up in unexpected places.
In January, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, announced they planned to quit as senior royals, seek financial independence and move to North America.
The split became official at the end of March, and the couple are currently in California, where Meghan was raised.
Proof of Prince Harry’s attachment to the engine can also be seen in photos of his first day attending kindergarten in September 1987, where he is seen carrying a Thomas the Tank Engine bag.
Thomas & Friends: The Royal Engine will air on Treehouse on May 8 at 6:05 p.m. and will be available to stream on STACKTV.
Global News and Treehouse are properties of Corus Entertainment.
— With files from the Associated Press