Soldiers fighting in Iraq may soon have a new comrade -- Prince Harry, who reportedly threw himself a goodbye party this weekend in anticipation of his deployment to Iraq.
Nearly every British paper Sunday is running paparazzi photos of what is described as a goodbye party for the young prince heading off to war. Although the controversy is still raging in Britain over whether he should ship out, Prince Harry appears ready to go.
With his girlfriend by his side, Prince Harry reportedly gave a rousing speech to friends at a London nightclub this weekend.
"I'm a nervous wreck," the tabloids quote him as saying at the party. But "I've waited a long time, and I just want to get out there and serve my country."
It's the first time Prince Harry has spoken about Iraq since the controversy erupted over his deployment there as an armored troop commander.
Many fear his celebrity could put his comrades at risk.
But if he didn't go, it could be embarrassing for the royal family and politically sensitive for the British government.
"It's cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds to train him to be a soldier, to train him to go out and do the job he wants to do," Dickie Arbiter, a former royal spokesman, said. "If they didn't want him to do it, why did they let him in the army in the first place?"
Harry would not be the first British royal to head into battle. Most recently, his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew helicopters in the Falklands War. But many say that was a different war and had a different climate altogether.
"The Iraq situation is dangerous and politically fraught," former British Defense Secretary John Nott said. "In the case of Prince Andrew and the Falklands, there was public support for the Falklands. There's not public support for the situation in Iraq."
Saturday, Prince Harry reportedly acknowledged that he may never see the front lines. According to some newspaper accounts, he told his friends it's out of his hands and will be up to his commanding officers.
But, he reportedly said, "Whether I serve on the front lines or in a desk job … I just want to get out to Iraq and serve my country."