British army chief says Prince Harry will go to Iraq

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
In this picture released by Ministry of Defense in London, Tuesday, April 11, 2006, Britain's Prince Harry wears the beret of the Blues and Royals, which forms part of the Household Cavalry, the oldest and most senior regiment in the Army, while taking part in his final training exercise, in Cyprus, in March 2006. A British newspaper reported Thursday April 26, 2007 that army chiefs were reconsidering their decision to allow Prince Harry to fight in Iraq with his army regiment. Clarence House, Prince Charles' London office, insisted Harry was on track to go to Iraq, but declined to comment further. (AP Photo/Corporal Ian Holding, Ministry of Defense, pool, File)

LONDON -- The head of the British army said Monday that he had personally decided that Prince Harry, the third in line to the throne, will serve with a combat unit in Iraq.

Commanders reportedly had reconsidered their decision to allow the prince to fight in Iraq for fear he would become a target of insurgents and his presence could endanger other soldiers.

Harry's regiment, the Blues and Royals, is due to begin a six-month tour of duty in Iraq within weeks.

Over the past two weeks, newspapers have reported threats by Iraqi insurgents to kill or kidnap the prince, including claims his photograph had been widely circulated among militants. Military chiefs acknowledge that Harry would be an attractive target and that his presence could lead to a surge in attacks on British forces.

Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt said the decision would be kept under review, but he hoped his statement would end media speculation on Harry's deployment.

"The decision has been taken by myself that he will deploy in due course," Dannatt said. "I would urge that the somewhat frenzied media activity surrounding this particular story should cease in the interests of the overall security of all our people deployed in Iraq."

He spoke after newspaper reports cited unidentified senior military officials as saying an army review was likely to lead to Harry being banned from the battlefield, although he could still do a desk job.

Clarence House, Prince Charles' London office, would not comment on Dannatt's statement.

Harry, a 22-year-old second lieutenant, is a tank commander trained to lead a 12-man team in four armored reconnaissance vehicles. If deployed, he would become the first royal to serve in a war zone since his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew as a helicopter pilot in Britain's conflict with Argentina over the Fakland Islands in 1982.

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