Friday, February 23, 2007

Prince Harry is set to be deployed in Iraq

Prince Harry is set to be deployed in Iraq
By Alan Cowell
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: February 22, 2007

LONDON: The British government made headlines Wednesday by saying it would withdraw some troops from Iraq. On Thursday, it made even more waves here by saying it would send one soldier in the opposite direction.

His name: Prince Harry, second son of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and third in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, and his older brother William.

Apart from being known as something of a playboy, Harry, 22, is a junior officer in the upper-crust Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry, after graduating from the Sandhust Military Academy last year.

Despite his official handlers' fears that he would be a "bullet magnet" in Iraq, he has long insisted that he would not countenance the idea of the troops under his command in an armored reconnaissance unit going in harm's way without him.

It turns out that he will not have to.

"His Royal Highness Prince Harry will deploy to Iraq later this year," the Defense Ministry and the prince's office said Thursday, in a joint statement that clearly reflected worries that his presence could draw fire on himself and those serving with him. Military planners have also expressed concern that attempts would be made to kidnap him.

In the military, Harry is known by the surname Wales and by his rank in the Blues and Royals — that of cornet, equivalent to a second lieutenant.

"Speculation about precisely where Cornet Wales will serve, or the exact details of his role, is potentially dangerous," the joint statement said.

The Daily Mail reported earlier this week that Harry had told the military brass that he would quit the army if he was left behind when his unit begins its tour in southern Iraq.

The prince is by no means the first royal to head for combat. His grandfather Prince Philip served in the Royal Navy during World War II. And as long ago as the 15th century — according to Shakespeare, at least — English troops were being exhorted to "Cry God for Harry! England and Saint George!" in support for Henry V against the French.

The present Harry's father, Prince Charles, served in the British Air Force and Navy, and his brother, Prince William, is in the Blues and Royals regiment. But Harry will become the first member of the royal family to serve on active duty in a combat zone since Prince Andrew, his uncle, flew helicopters in the Falklands War in 1982.


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