Prince Harry, the youngest son of Prince Charles and the late princess Diana, has been fighting the Taliban on the front line in Afghanistan, the defence ministry in London said Thursday.(Report: O.Fairclough)
Prince Harry, the youngest son of Prince Charles and the late princess Diana, has been fighting the Taliban on the front line in Afghanistan, the defence ministry in London said Thursday.
The 23-year-old prince, an officer in the Household Cavalry regiment, has spent the past 10 weeks secretly serving in the volatile southern province of Helmand, where most of Britain's troops are based.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had kept the young royal's deployment secret under a news blackout agreed by British media to prevent details reaching insurgents and endangering the prince and his comrades.
But the arrangement broke down after news was leaked out on the US website, the Drudge Report, which said that the Australian magazine New Idea and the German tabloid Bild were the first to break a world embargo.
As part of the deal a group of journalists visited the prince in Helmand on condition that details would only be publicised once he was safely back in Britain.
The deal was arranged after Harry's planned tour to Iraq last year had to be shelved because of the security risk sparked by media publicity.
The British Army's most senior officer, Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, slammed the fact that the news had been published prematurely.
"I am very disappointed that foreign websites have decided to run this story without consulting us," he said.
Dannatt said the last two months had shown it was "perfectly possible" for Prince Harry to serve in the same fashion as other army officers of his rank and experience.
"His conduct on operations in Afghanistan has been exemplary," he said. "He has been fully involved in operations and has run the same risks as everyone else in his battlegroup."
Dannatt said he had decided to deploy Harry in Afghanistan because the news blackout agreement with the media had made the risk "manageable".
"Now that the story is in the public domain, the Chief of Defence Staff and I will take advice from the operational commanders about whether his deployment can continue," he said.
"I now appeal to the media to restrain from attempting to report Prince Harry's every move and return to our understanding."
Date created : 2008-02-28