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Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Reid defends Harry in service row
Prince Harry on parade
The Blues and Royals may be sent to Iraq next year
Prince Harry should be allowed to serve on the front line of battle zones, Defence Secretary John Reid has said.

He was speaking after military commanders were said to be worried that the prince might draw enemy fire and put other troops at risk.

Mr Reid, speaking in Afghanistan, said Harry should be allowed to carry out normal duties "as far as is possible".

The prince's unit, the Household Cavalry's Blues and Royals, is due to be sent to Iraq next year.

If they said 'no, you can't go front line' then I wouldn't drag my sorry ass through Sandhurst and I wouldn't be where I am now
Prince Harry

Prince Harry is adamant that, if his soldiers go, he wants to be there too.

Speaking last year, he said: "If they said 'no, you can't go front line' then I wouldn't drag my sorry ass through Sandhurst and I wouldn't be where I am now.

"The last thing I want to do is have my soldiers away to Iraq or wherever like that and for me to be held back home."

But it is understood some military commanders feel a royal presence in this already volatile region could increase the dangers for British troops.

'Judgement call'

Mr Reid said the prince's profile must be taken into account but that he should be allowed to carry out his duties.

My plea would be to let this young man... be treated as what he is and that's a potentially very good young officer
John Reid

"It would be my wish to do that as far as is possible, but obviously if there are aspects because of his prominence, that he has not sought, that would lead to a threat dimension that would be taken into account by commanding officers," he said.

"That is for them to judge but my plea would be to let this young man... be treated as what he is and that's a potentially very good young officer."

A Clarence House spokesman also admitted that, in some circumstances, Prince Harry's presence could pose an increased risk to his regiment but said a "judgement call" would have to be made by his commanding officer.

Defence analyst Amyas Godfrey, of the Royal United Services Institute, said he thought the dangers of the prince serving in a battle zone had been overstated.

"It would be an enormous amount of resources to kidnap one British soldier or to specifically attack that one specific soldier, and in many ways that would be counter-productive for an insurgency," he said.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See Prince Harry on a training exercise with the Army



SEE ALSO:
Profile: Prince Harry
15 Sep 05 |  UK


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