He's the redheaded son of the late Princess Diana, the rowdy royal known more for dancing until dawn than waking for battle. But Britain's party prince, Harry, is getting his wish and is being deployed to Iraq with his Blues and Royals regiment.
Royal officials announced on Thursday that the 22-year-old prince would fight for his country, confirming the feverish tabloid speculation about the future of the best-recognized tank commander in Britain. His regiment is expected to complete a six-month tour.
Harry, a second lieutenant, has been trained to lead a team of 12 men in four armored reconnaissance vehicles, and could become the first royal to see combat since his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew in the Falklands war against Argentina in 1982.
Word of the deployment follows only one day after British Prime Minister Tony Blair said troop numbers in Iraq would be cut by 1,600 in the coming months. The Sun, a daily tabloid newspaper, opined: "1,600 out ... One in."
Britain will hand over much of its security responsibilities to Iraqi security forces, concentrating its troops at Basra Palace and Basra Air Base. Iraqi insurgent groups looking to target Cornet Wales -- as his rank is called in the Blues and Royals -- will not have to look far to find him. That alone has led to some concern.
"In a sense, his celebrity might be a factor in making the security situation for his troop more dangerous," said Michael Clarke, a professor of war studies at London's King's College.
Britain's Ministry of Defense has previously said that Harry could be kept out of situations where his presence could jeopardize his comrades. And there has been speculation that he will be shadowed by a team of bodyguards.
But a source close to Harry, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, told the press that Harry would not be given any special protection.
Colonel Bob Stewart, a former British commander, said he was certain Harry would be safe.
"The Blues and Royals will take great pride in making sure no one gets near him," he said. "I can't think of better security than having a regiment of British soldiers around you."
In Britain, Harry's upcoming deployment was taken in stride. Blair described Harry's decision as in keeping with his character.
"He's a very brave young man, and he's a very determined young man who wants to be part of his regiment and part of the army," Blair said during a British Broadcasting Corp interview. "I think that shows a very special character on his part."
Others thought fighting in Iraq was an appropriate task for the prince.
"It's a bit dangerous for him ... but it's good," said Lee Wills, a 20-year-old from London. "The royal family's got to do its bit for their country."
But in Baghdad Iraqis described the deployment as a public relations stunt.
"These things [are] just to beautify the picture ... the British government wants also to boost the [morale] of their troops,'' said Sabah Ali, a 35-year old employee at the Iraqi Oil Ministry in Baghdad.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South