The debate, now resolved by the confirmation by Sir Richard Dannatt that Prince Harry would go to Iraq, provoked this letter to the London Daily Telegraph of 21 April, 2007 which has been passed on to us by UK reader, Eric Brown. :
“Prince Harry’s service:
Sir – Prince Harry, like his father, uncle, grandfather and great-grandfather, is a serving officer (report, April 20). They did not hide behind their royal status, so the media should stop implying that Prince Harry’s correct decision to serve with his soldiers is something out of the ordinary.
Prince Andrew served in Invincible in the Falklands, a ship specifically targeted by the Argentine air force, not because he was aboard, but because it was one of the two most valuable ships in the task force.
The odds on Andrew becoming a casualty were higher than those his nephew will face. In more than four years since the invasion of Iraq, British dead total 144. In the Falklands, the British lost 255 dead in six weeks (94 at sea).
If you join the Armed Forces of this country, the contract includes laying your life on the line when required. There should be no exceptions, even for royalty. They don’t wish it, neither should we.
Major General Julian Thompson, London SW6”
Major General Thompson states a time honoured truth which neither passing fashion nor the ramblings of the circulation driven commentariat can dissipate or dissolve. As we reported in an earlier column, Prince Harry’s wish to serve has struck a chord, particularly in the United States, where a comparison has been made between our Royal Family and the leading families of the republic. The Prince’s affirmation, indeed insistence that he must serve with his men reflects the innate sense of honour which the Royal Family have demonstrated constantly throughout the life of this Commonwealth of Australia. Major General Thompson deserves to be congratulated for pointing out the facts.