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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Harry will not quit, say friends
Prince Harry
Prince Harry has long stated his desire to serve as an active officer

Friends of Prince Harry have denied reports that he will quit the Army if he is not allowed to serve in Iraq.

But they admitted he would be "very disappointed" to miss out, the BBC's royal correspondent has been told.

The Ministry of Defence is reviewing Harry's deployment after 11 UK troops were killed this month, one of the bloodiest since the conflict began.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has told reporters he would be "delighted" if his child wanted to serve in Iraq.

However, he also insisted Harry's future was "absolutely a matter for the military".

The MoD said the matter had always been under "constant consideration", and the final say will lie with head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt.

'Murder target'

Michael Portillo, a former Conservative defence secretary, told BBC News that Harry should not go to Iraq.

"It's clear that he could be a target, either for murder or kidnapping and if that occurred it would be a disaster for Britain."

However security analyst Colonel Mike Dewar said that such arguments "flattered" the insurgents because they "wouldn't have the foggiest" about Harry's location.

He said: "Regiments don't wear regimental colours on their vehicles, there is no way, particular way, of telling which vehicle Prince Harry is in, or where he is."

And Colonel Bob Stewart, a former British commander with UN forces in Bosnia, told BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight that it was important that Harry was treated as much as possible like an ordinary soldier.

"If he doesn't go, it'll not only be just deeply disappointing for him, but quite frankly it might well send him out of the Army," said Colonel Stewart.

Christina Scott, whose son is serving in the RAF, also said Harry should go to Iraq.

"It's part and parcel of the job so why should he be any different?" she asked.

Harry would struggle with any decision, on the grounds of safety, to change his role and perhaps put him behind a desk
Peter Hunt
BBC Royal Correspondent

Harry, 22, is currently set to go to Iraq within weeks and has been taking part in preparation exercises.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "It is still our intent that Prince Harry will deploy as a troop leader."

Clarence House refused to comment.

'Normal role'

As an officer, Harry would be in charge of 11 soldiers carrying out reconnaissance work using armoured fighting vehicles.

23 April Kingsman Alan Jones
19 April Corporal Ben Leaning, Trooper Kristen Turton
15 April Colour Sergeant Mark Powell, RAF Sergeant Mark McLaren
5 April Second Lieutenant Joanna Yorke Dyer, Corporal Kris O'Neill, Private Eleanor Dlugosz, Kingsman Adam James Smith
2 April Rifleman Aaron Lincoln
1 April Kingsman Danny Wilson

In February, Clarence House and the MoD confirmed the prince would be deployed to Iraq, saying he would take on a "normal troop commander's role" rather than a desk job.

But last week, two British soldiers died doing the same job Prince Harry would be expected to do during his six-month tour.

And earlier this month a Challenger tank was seriously damaged in an attack by Iraqi insurgents.

'More fraught'

The BBC's Peter Hunt said Harry had always insisted he should not be treated differently because of his status.

"Harry would struggle with any decision, on the grounds of safety, to change his role and perhaps put him behind a desk in Basra," he said.

The deployment would make the prince the first royal to undertake a tour of duty in a war zone since the Duke of York served in the Falklands conflict in 1982.

Sir John Nott, Conservative defence secretary during the Falklands War, said the issue of Harry's deployment was different from his uncle's because the war in Iraq was "much more fraught" and did not have "complete public support".

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