Prince Harry is to go to Iraq within days



By Chris Hughes


PRINCE Harry will be serving on the front line in Iraq by the end of the month.

The 22-year-old prince will head for Basra with comrades from the Blues and Royals Regiment within days and will then probably be deployed along the border with Iran.

A senior military source said: "The final details are being sorted, but he is definitely going. Naturally, his royal status has to be taken into account - but he will see action."

Second Lieutenant Harry, who insisted on going, is likely to be in charge of a troop of 12 soldiers in light armoured vehicles.

They are expected to be sent on reconnaissance missions, spending days or even weeks out in the desert. Defence Secretary Des Browne is expected to announce the news on February 26.


PRINCE Harry is being sent to Iraq after making it clear he was not willing to sit out the war in safety while comrades risked their lives.

A senior military source said: "He has insisted on being able to perform his duties as any other officer would. He won't be just flying a desk.

"As a young officer Harry will want to go to war as a point of pride. There would have been no point in him training for this if that was never going to happen."

Second Lieutenant Harry, who will be known as Troop Commander Wales by colleagues in the Blues and Royals Regiment, warned superiors he would resign his commission if he was denied active service in Afghanistan or Iraq on security grounds.

Defence Secretary Des Browne is expected to officially announce in the Commons on February 26 that Harry is off to the front line.

The prince will arrive in Iraq in the middle of massive security clampdowns centred on Baghdad and Basra. More than 1,200 British troops are sweeping across Southern Iraq in pursuit of insurgents.

All border crossings into Iran have been closed and road checkpoints reinforced to cut off supply routes.

Men from the Blues and Royals are among troops scheduled to replace soldiers from the 19th Light Brigade in April. But military commanders and royal aides have decided to allow Harry to head to Iraq early after spending months debating the issue.

They decided it was best for the 22-year-old prince, third in line to the throne, to go while the clampdown is still under way.

The source said: "The thinking was always that Harry would go to war but perhaps during the safest period."

Once he arrives in Basra he will receive intelligence briefings on the insurgency in Iraq. After a few days he will be probably be deployed along the Iranian border to help the security operation against Shia insurgents.

Harry, who graduated from Sandhurst Military Academy last year, will lead his troop of 12 men in light armoured vehicles on missions to gather intelligence.

It is not known if Harry's private secretary, former SAS officer Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, will join him.

But he will be "mentored" by an experienced and older soldier - probably a sergeant.

His mobile force may spend days or even weeks out in the desert, possibly in the volatile Maysan Province. Although isolated from the main battle group, Harry is likely to operate some distance from dangerous towns.

As a small mobile unit, it is unlikely to face sustained mortar and rocket attacks. His men are likely to drive small Scimitar or Spartan tanks fitted with 30mm cannon and sleep out in the open.

The tanks have night vision technology to spy out ambushes. It is possible they will be given open-top, lightly armoured vehicles - essentially Land Rovers fitted with heavy machine guns.

Recce troops are trained in operating behind enemy lines or as close to them as possible. Although his duties sound hazardous, Harry's troops will be well-protected by air support if caught in a battle.

Their nature of their mission means they avoid roads - reducing the risk of casualties from the roadside bombs that have killed so many British soldiers. It is thought unlikely Harry will be required to go into rebel towns.

King George II bashed the Frenchies in 1743.

The Royal Family have a long history of war service. George II was the last king to lead troops into battle, when his army beat the French at Dettingen in 1743.

The Queen's father George VI was in the Royal Navy before becoming king and saw action at the Battle of Jutland against the Germans in 1916 during the First World War on HMS Collingwood (that was the last purely naval battle in history).

Of the current royals, Prince Philip served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

Prince Andrew was a helicopter pilot in the Falklands War.