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The Fighting Prince Goes Home

by @ 8:31 am on February 29, 2008. Filed under War On Terror

The big news yesterday, broken by the Drudge Report, was the news that Prince Harry, third in line for the British throne, had been in Afghanistan since December and had seen combat:

LONDON, Feb. 28 — Prince Harry has been fighting on the front lines in Afghanistan for 10 weeks, his presence there kept secret until Thursday in a remarkable deal between the British military and news media.

British military officials confirmed that Harry, 23, third in line to the British throne, deployed to Afghanistan on Dec. 14 and has been fighting Taliban forces from a forward operating base in Southern Helmand province.

Most remarkable about the story was the self-imposed silence of the normally not-so-silent British media. But, thanks to Drudge, that ban was lifted and the British media has been all over the story. As a result, Harry’s deployment has come to an end:

LONDON, Feb. 29 — Prince Harry will be immediately brought home from Afghanistan, where he has spent the last 10 weeks quietly fighting on the front lines, the British defense ministry said Friday.

Harry, 23, third in line to the British throne, deployed to Afghanistan on Dec. 14 and has been fighting Taliban forces from a forward combat base in southern Helmand Province.

His presence there had been kept secret from the public in a remarkable deal between the British military and media. But the secret was revealed in two little-noticed articles in an Australian tabloid magazine, and then blasted into the global media spotlight Thursday by the Drudge Report website. Harry’s deployment immediately became sensational news here, rekindling an emotional debate about whether the red-haired second son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana should be risking his life in war.

(…)

In the December interview, one of the most extensive of his life, Harry said he considered leaving the army after being denied an Iraq deployment. The reason he didn’t, he said, was “the possibility of this” mission to Afghanistan.

“I would never want to put someone else’s life in danger when they have to sit next to the bullet magnet,” he said. “But if I’m wanted, if I’m needed, then I will serve my country as I signed up to do.”

Say what you will about the British Royal Family, but you’ve got have a certain respect for a guy whose willing to go into combat when, clearly, he doesn’t have to. He may not be the Prince Harry of the Birmoverse, but he’s pretty darn close.

And, I’ve got to agree with James Joyner that it’s unfortunate that Matt Drudge, or whoever, felt the need to break this story:

[O]ne longs for the old days when gentlemen’s agreements like this were honored for their own sake. Indeed, it’s somewhat surprising that the news blackout on this story was as successful as it has been. Allowing Harry to do his duty outside the spotlight and without creating a high profile target for the Taliban is a noble gesture and far outweighs whatever “public right to know” that would have justified breaking the embargo.

Well, you know, Matt Drudge isn’t exactly Ernie Pyle

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