LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - Britain's Prince Harry, third in
line to the throne, returned home from Afghanistan on Saturday
after news leaked out on the Internet that he had been secretly
fighting the Taliban for 10 weeks.
Queen Elizabeth's grandson was pulled out early from the
frontline because defence officials feared worldwide coverage of
his deployment with the British army could endanger him and his
The prince flew back to the Royal Air Force base at Brize
Norton in central England to be greeted by his father, Prince
Charles, and brother, Prince William. Harry went to Afghanistan
on active service in December on a four-month deployment.
The 23-year-old son of the late Princess Diana was the first
British royal to see combat since his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew
helicopters during the Falklands War 25 years ago.
The British media had maintained a voluntary blackout on
Harry's Afghan deployment but that collapsed after Web sites in
Australia, Germany and the United States leaked the news.
He was bitterly disappointed last year that his planned
deployment to Iraq was cancelled after militant groups there
threatened to kidnap or kill him. Harry confessed he had
contemplated quitting the army.
Harry said he could now be a "top target" for Islamist
extremists in Britain after fighting the Taliban.
"Once this ... comes out there'll probably be every single
person, every single person that supports them will be trying to
slot me," he said.
The Times newspaper agreed. "Prince Harry returns to England
today, a hero to the Army, a changed man in the eyes of the
public and a target for jihadists," it said.
Harry, pursued around London by paparazzi every time he goes
to a nightclub, revelled in the anonymity of serving on the
frontline in Afghanistan.
The prince, whose mother lived in the glare of media
publicity before dying in a Paris car crash while being chased
by paparazzi, said: "It's very nice to be a normal person for
once, I think this is about as normal as I'm ever going to get."