Kidnap Threat May Keep UK’s Prince Harry from Iraq
A serious kidnapping threat to Prince Harry has caused UK Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt to rethink whether to send “Cornet Wales” to Iraq, Michael Evans and James Hider report.
Army chiefs fear that a fatal attack on two British soldiers in Iraq last week was a dry run for an attempt on Prince Harry’s life, The Times has learnt. The attack was made on a type of vehicle that the Prince will use, and took place in a part of the country where he is due to be deployed as early as next month. The two died when their Scimitar reconnaissance vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb — the first time that British soldiers had been killed in a Scimitar as a result of enemy action. The Army fears that extremists deliberately chose the vehicle knowing that the Prince is a troop leader for a Scimitar-equipped unit.
Prince Harry faces a kidnap threat from insurgents, who have become active this month even within bases used by the British Army in southern Iraq. Security has been tightened at Camp Sparrowhawk, a base in Maysan Province used by reconnaissance units such as Prince Harry’s.
The Ministry of Defence and royal sources said that at present Prince Harry was still bound for Iraq, unless General Dannatt changed his mind. Defence sources said that every aspect of Prince Harry’s deployment was being reassessed, and that the military and intelligence services in Iraq had been asked urgently to give their views.
The prince is a special case, of course, but ultimately Spook66 is right: Harry must be allowed to go.
Obviously, the terrorists in Iraq would welcome the chance to kill or maim a member of Britain’s royal family, but that’s nothing new. Over the centuries, the royals have seen combat in scores of conflicts, and Britain’s enemies offered no quarter because of their presence. During World War II, a destroyer commanded by Harry’s great-great uncle (Lord Mountbatten) was sunk by the Luftwaffe, Mountbatten himself was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979. Harry’s grandfather, Prince Phillip, also saw action with the Royal Navy during World War II, and his uncle, Prince Andrew, was a combat helicopter pilot in the Falklands Campaign. Those members of the royal family did not ask for special favors because of their position–only the opportunity to do their jobs. Prince Harry has made a similar request in being allowed to accompany his regiment to Iraq.
While I have steadfastly opposed reinstatement of a draft on both philosophical and technical grounds, there is something to the argument that our all-volunteer system gives a free pass to the children of the elite to escape the dangers of military service. The days of noblesse oblige, when the children of men named Roosevelt, Kennedy, Rockefeller, and Bush routinely put on their country’s uniform during times of war are long gone. One of the good points to a constitutional monarchy is that proud tradition remains intact.
To his credit, Cornet Wales has chosen to follow it. Given the number of military officers in his immediate family, he knew better than most the nature of the call for which he volunteered. Let him now honor his commitment.