Prince Harry Looking Forward to Proving Himself in Military

ByABC News via via logo

Feb. 22, 2007 — -- The British Ministry of Defense announced today that Prince Harry would be sent to Iraq in the next rotation.

Although British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced Wednesday that Britain would begin withdrawing troops from Iraq, more than 5,000 soldiers will stay.

Harry's unit is expected to ship out in April, and Harry will serve his tour of duty in the southern city of Basra, becoming the first British royal in 25 years to see military action.

Since Prince Harry enrolled at Sandhurst Military College, people have been asking: Would the Brits really send the third in line to the throne, the queen's beloved grandson to Iraq?

Harry himself always knew the answer.

"If they said, 'No, you can't go to the front line,' I wouldn't have dragged my sorry a-- through Sandhurst," he said.

Coronet Wales, as he's known in the army, will command a troop of armored vehicles. Harry will reportedly not be given any special treatment.

The helmet will cover his ginger hair, and the camouflage paint will hide his cheeky grin.

"The queen would think it letting down the whole family if Harry didn't do this," said royal historian Robert Lacey.

Military service has been part of the royal lineage. Harry's Uncle Andrew flew choppers in the Falkland War, and his grandfather was a navy man during World War II.

"What's a princess without a silver slipper and what's a prince who doesn't risk himself on the battle field?" Lacey said.

Harry has always wanted to join that group.

"Since I was that high I was dressing up in camouflage gear and all that stuff," he has said.

He's determined to do the job for real, commanding 12 men in arguably the most dangerous place on Earth.

"The last thing I want to do is have my soldiers sent over to Iraq and me to be twiddling my thumbs like and thinking, 'What about David? What about Derek?'" Harry said.

Some argue his presence might put his men in more danger, by drawing fire from insurgents seeking a propaganda coup.

A former solder said that would be unlikely.

"Unless the attackers can recognize him from a distance or recognize which troop of four vehicles is his command, then he's in no more danger than anyone else," said Mark Anstice, a former British soldier. "I'm pretty sure his boys, his troops, would want him to be up there with them."

And his mother, who died 10 years ago, would be proud.

"I'm sure Diana is up there looking down and just pleased as punch with these boys," Lacey said.

Prince William is also in the military, but his destiny is to be king. For Harry, Iraq is his chance to prove himself a worthy royal.

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