Friday, April 27, 2007

Prince Harry: King or Country?

The lie that the U.K. is drawing down its forces in Basra and will be out of Iraq altogether in the not too distant future because the area has been stabilized has had an unexpectedly serious consequence that has a name:
Henry Charles Albert David Wales, who is better known as Harry Prince of Wales.

Prince Harry, the dashingly handsome (handsomely dashing?) 22-year-old son of Prince Charles and the late Lady Diana, is third in line of succession to the British throne, but has more pressing business to take care of before he is fitted for a crown and scepter.

Harry is a cornet in the Blues and Royals, a mechanized tank regiment of the Household Cavalry in the British Army and his unit is scheduled to rotate to Iraq. Harry’s job would be to lead a force of Scimitar armored reconnaissance vehicles on the Iraq-Iran border.

Scimitars are fast and agile, but they also are especially vulnerable to IEDs and there is some question about whether Prince Harry’s superiors will let him get his hands dirty considering the level of violence in Basra and thereabouts. The British casualty rate has been skyrocketing and nearly 30 soldiers have died in the last month.

For his part, Harry has made it clear that he will leave the Army if he is left in safety.
So what’s a commanding general to do?

Robert Fox, writing in The Guardian, observes that:
"Undoubtedly we will get the usual blather from 'friends of the prince' in the red-top tabloids saying that 'Harry will quit the army, if he is refused Iraq' etc, etc. The army chiefs are mindful of not inviting a publicity own goal after the navy's self-inflicted bruises to image and ego with the soap opera of the Tehran 15. In the great list of operational problems now facing the forces and the government, Harry is little more than a footnote. The way things are going in Iraq and Afghanistan, his commanders know they have bigger and more serious fish to fry."
As someone who is 100,000th or so in line of succession to the throne (I’m not making this up), I heartily concur.

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