Prince Harry could be back serving in Afghanistan soon, after the country’s top soldier, Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, said at a Jubilee event, "Prince Harry's operational tour in Afghanistan in the Army was a huge credit to him and his success in flying training means it is likely he will serve operationally again."
The comments were made during a military tribute to the Queen at Windsor castle, in which more than 2,500 serving soldiers paraded for the monarch, and a flypast of 78 aircraft, which first spelt out the number 60 followed by the initials E R (for Elizabeth Regina) (aviation buffs, see video).
The General’s remarks - which could be regarded as needlessly giving a hostage-to-fortune - are the clearest indication yet that Harry will indeed be returning to operational duties in the front line. Harry’s last deployment was brought to a rapid end after six weeks, when his presence in Afghanistan was noticed by an Australian magazine and then repeated by Matt Drudge, who claimed to be unaware of a media blackout.
The story of Harry’s return to active service has been extensively trailed by the Clarence House press office, which has made much of the fact that Harry was given a prize for being top gunner in his class. Some of the training took place in America last year. The managers of Brand Harry also place emphasis on how hard it is to qualify as an Apache pilot, including the oft-repeated tidbit that you have to learn to move each eyeball independently of the other and that just one in 10 of those who apply to fly the attack helicopters make it through the training to do so.
Sources at the Ministry of Defense have gone to some lengths to emphasize that the prince will be getting blood on his hands: his job, we have been previously told, will be to “kill insurgents” and he will be joining a team with one of the highest “kill rates” in Afghanistan.
The Prince will not be deployed without the express approval of Prime Minister David Cameron. The Ministry of Defense has decided that no media blackout is necessary, as it was last time Harry served on the front line, in Helmand province, because as a helicopter pilot, “Captain Wales” is at considerably less risk of being targeted than he was as an infantryman.
Sixty years and hardly a slip.