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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007, 06:08 GMT 07:08 UK
Army chiefs consider Harry's role
Prince Harry
The prince had said he wanted to be deployed with his men
Military commanders are considering Prince Harry's future role in the Army after deciding it is too dangerous for him to serve in Iraq.

They are hoping to secure the prince's career amid suggestions his credibility as a serving officer has been damaged.

The head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, has said there would be "unacceptable risks" involved if Harry were deployed to Iraq.

The prince is said to be disappointed, but committed to his army future.

'Direct threats'

On Wednesday the general said the prince's deployment would pose too much of a threat to him and those serving alongside him.

"There have been a number of specific threats, some reported some not reported, which relate directly to Prince Harry as an individual," he said.

"These threats expose not only him but also those around him to a degree of risk that I now deem unacceptable."

It would appear that Harry's life is more valuable than my son or the other nearly 150 service personnel who've given their lives
Reg Keys

The army chief described the prince as an officer of "determination and undoubted talent" and said he did not rule out deploying the 22-year-old prince to the region in the future.

The announcement, which represents a U-turn on an earlier decision, was made amid reports militant groups in Iraq planned to kill or kidnap the prince.

Last month the Ministry of Defence had said the prince would be heading to Iraq as an armoured reconnaissance officer in the Blues and Royals regiment.

But on Wednesday, the general said he had reached his decision following a visit to the region at the end of last week.

Dickie Arbiter, who was formerly press secretary to the Queen, said the matter had been handled "pretty badly."

HAVE YOUR SAY
Having served two tours of Iraq, I do not think he should go. To have such a 'target' would be unacceptable
Anon, West Midlands

He said: "Right at the very beginning they should have said 'We will assess' without putting Harry's hopes up that he was going to go.

"He'll be disappointed... that he can't go with his men, the men he's trained with for months to do this job."

Mr Arbiter added that if Harry had been captured then he "would have been paraded, sack over his head, notice around his neck on television, on the web, probably with a knife at his throat".

Credibility damaged

The U-turn has focused attention on Harry's future and the role of the royals in the modern military services.

Major Charles Heyman, editor of Armed Forces UK, said he thought the prince would almost certainly leave the Army.

While he could be found a "non-job" to keep him "out of trouble", he would be left without credibility by the decision not to deploy him to Iraq, Major Heyman said.

When Harry's uncle, Prince Andrew, returned from the Falklands conflict in 1982 he said if he had not gone his position in the Royal Navy would have become untenable.

Following the Army's decision, some families of those killed in Iraq have questioned why their relatives should be sent to the front line when the third in line to the throne is not.

Reg Keys - whose son Thomas was killed while on active service in Basra in 2003 - said he found the decision distasteful.

"It would appear that Harry's life is more valuable than my son or the other nearly 150 service personnel who've given their lives," Mr Keys added.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Footage of Prince Harry on a training exercise



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