Skip to main content

UK's Prince Harry sees combat in Afghanistan

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Prince Harry's Afghanistan deployment is being reviewed
  • NEW: Breaking of a news embargo puts the prince at risk, military says
  • NEW: Islamist Web sites have alerted militants to capture the prince
  • Ministry of Defense says Prince Harry was deployed in December
  • Next Article in World »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The UK's Prince Harry has been serving on the frontline in Afghanistan and seen combat, but his deployment will be reviewed after the news was leaked by a U.S. Web site, the UK Ministry of Defense confirmed Thursday.

He was deployed 10 weeks ago and his fellow soldiers were sworn to secrecy.

"At the end of the day I like to sort of be a normal person, and for once I think this is about as normal as I'm ever going to get," the 23-year-old prince said in a recent interview.

Harry is third in line to the British throne and serves with the Blues and Royals.

The information had been kept secret for security reasons, said Gen. Richard Dannatt, the chief of Britain's General Staff. Because of the unique circumstances of the deployment.

CNN, as well as other news organizations, chose to honor an embargo requested by the military.

The prince is a member of a group called Joint Tactical Air Control, or JTAC. He holds the rank of cornet -- equivalent to a second lieutenant -- and serves as a forward air controller.Video Watch Prince Harry on the front lines in Afghanistan »

His duties include calling in airstrikes and air support when necessary, guaranteeing the accuracy of bombing on the ground and guarding against incidents of friendly fire.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm out here as a normal JTAC on the ground and not as Prince Harry," he said.

Harry is the younger son of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and the late Princess Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997.

The military confirmed his assignment after a U.S. Web site broke the news blackout -- and Dannatt expressed displeasure at the report.Video Watch how a top secret operation deployed Prince Harry »

"I am very disappointed that foreign Web sites have decided to run this story without consulting us," Dannatt said in a written statement. "It was my judgment that with an understanding with the media not to broadcast his whereabouts, the risk in (deploying him to Afghanistan) was 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."

Last year, the military ruled Harry could not be sent to Iraq because publicity about the deployment could put him and his unit at risk.

But Dannatt said the experience has demonstrated "that it is perfectly possible for Prince Harry to be employed just the same as other Army officers of his rank and experience."

"His conduct on operations in Afghanistan has been exemplary," the general said. "He has been fully involved in operations and has run the same risks as everyone else in his battle group. In common with all of his generation in the army today, he is a credit to the nation." Video Watch Prince Harry on the front lines »

Shortly after the news of the prince's deployment broke, several Islamist Web sites posted messages alerting their "brethren" in Afghanistan to be on the lookout for the royal soldier.

"O brothers of monotheism, if you find anyone with unusual security in his battalion, know that this could be the Prince Harry. We ask God that he gets caught on your hands," one such posting read.

Several members of the British royal family have seen combat over the past century. Harry's grandfather, Prince Phillip, served aboard warships in World War II; his great-grandfather -- King George VI -- took part in the World War I naval battle of Jutland; and Prince Andrew, Harry's uncle, flew Navy helicopters during Britain's 1982 war with Argentina over the Falkand Islands.


Harry's brother, Prince William, is also an army officer. But as second in line for the throne, he is specifically barred from combat.

The last sitting British monarch to lead troops in battle was George II, who defeated a French force at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Prince Harry of WalesAfghanistan

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print