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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 March 2008, 17:44 GMT
Charles proud of returning Harry
Princes Harry, William and Charles leaving Brize Norton
Prince Harry was met by his father and his brother

Prince Charles has spoken of his "great relief" at the safe return of his son Harry, after 10 weeks with his regiment on the frontline in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, where he was met by Prince Charles and Prince William.

The prince's tour was cut short after a news blackout collapsed, raising fears he would be targeted by the Taleban.

The Prince of Wales said he was pleased about his son's return and praised the efforts of all armed forces personnel.

Prince Harry, 23, a second lieutenant in the Household Cavalry, was flown out from Helmand Province under orders from the Chief of Defence Staff.

The prince's deployment was subject to a news blackout in a deal struck between the MoD and newspapers and broadcasters in the UK and abroad.

'Particular frustration'

The agreement broke down after the story appeared on influential American website The Drudge Report.

We owe an enormous amount to those families of servicemen who endure so much
Prince Charles

The Ministry of Defence said the safety of Prince Harry and his colleagues had been compromised.

As the soldiers arrived to collect their belongings some were greeted by Prince Charles.

Later the Prince of Wales told journalists: "I feel particular frustration that he [Prince Harry] was removed unexpectedly early because - apart from anything else - he had been looking forward to coming back with the rest of his regiment."

Prince Harry was sent secretly to Afghanistan in December but was ordered out of the country by defence chiefs on Friday.

Prince Harry is a trained soldier. I'm in the service too and I'm pleased for him that he was allowed to go
Deborah, Hampshire, UK

Prince Charles said he had found it "quite difficult" to keep the secret.

"People kept saying to me 'you must be so frustrated about Harry not being able to serve abroad'"

He said when he was asked where Harry was, he'd reply: "He's on exercise somewhere."


The Prince of Wales said he was now more aware of the stresses and worries of families with loved-ones serving in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We owe an enormous amount to those families of servicemen who endure so much and support their loved ones with such understanding. It makes a huge difference," he said.

"I also feel very strongly that we don't often appreciate what the people in the armed forces are doing, putting up with the most impossible conditions, very often in hazardous circumstances in heat or freezing cold, being shot at or rocketed at and goodness knows what else."

He said all armed service personnel were owed "an enormous debt of gratitude for performing their duty".

Finally Prince Charles said: "I've been incredibly proud of Harry and I promise you, equally proud of all the dedicated service given by all our armed forces."

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