The Queen has given her blessing to Prince Harry's return to active duty in Afghanistan, reports Anita Singh in the London Daily Telegraph (8/8).
The Prince was speaking to Frank Gardner, the BBC's defence correspondent, during his recent trip to the Arctic. His charity trek to the North Pole with a group of disabled servicemen will be documented in a film, Harry's Arctic Heroes, to be broadcast later this month.
Prince Harry went on the polar trek as patron of Walking With The Wounded, a charity for injured servicemen. He said:
"We have to look after our wounded. They are veterans, 50 or 60 years old, that we haven't paid much attention to. There are so many wounded guys now and they need to be looked after for years to come."
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Ms. Singh said that the Prince is likely to be deployed next year when his Apache pilot training comes to an end. In 2008, the Prince served in Helmand Province with the Household Cavalry but his tour was cut short after 10 weeks when an Australian magazine breached a news blackout and disclosed his whereabouts. She added that there were fears that his presence in Afghanistan could increase the risk to other soldiers by making him a high priority target for the Taliban.
Asked if his family would worry about him returning to the front line, the Prince, 26, said:
"They will be concerned, just as any other family.
"But my grandmother – and my father, of course, but my grandmother more than anybody else because at the end of the day she's the Queen – she understands more than anybody else that I'm serving my country and that's what I chose to do and that's what William chose to do as well, and that's what we'll continue to do."
Prince Harry said that both he and his brother, Prince William, share a commitment to duty. "While we're doing military service we may or may not be seen doing public engagements as much as the rest of the family but we've got a job to do and if we're doing a job and that involves going out operationally or William flying in 100 foot cloud down the Welsh coast, then so be it."
"At the moment those are our jobs and that's what we're going to be doing."
Asked why he had chosen the "lonely business" of flying rather than the camaraderie of life on the ground, Ms. Singh says the Prince admitted that he had been given little choice in the matter.
"When I came back last time, obviously it was because of the media.
. "I wanted to go back… and I was told, 'From the media's point of view you've done that job, we will not keep this secret quiet unless you do something different'.
"So I sat down with [former head of the British Army] General Dannatt at the time and the possibility of helicopters popped up. My father was a helicopter pilot so hopefully it will run in the family. And it was an opportunity that I just couldn't throw away, no matter what."