THE British media have probably known since before Christmas that Prince Harry was serving in Afghanistan but have kept the secret of his deployment there with the Blues and Royals. Unfortunately the news was leaked by an Australian women's magazine and picked up by the US-based Drudge Report website. Yesterday's reporting was carefully designed to disguise whether or not the Prince is still on active service. On some calculations his tour of duty may not end for about two months and the fact that he has been serving in front-line operations as a Forward Air Controller will give rise to the same anxieties that were expressed when it seemed likely that he would go to Iraq with his regiment early last year. His “cover” as Cornet Wales will not have done much to camouflage his role and if the Taliban have become aware of his presence they are certain to have considered whether they can take advantage of it. As before, there will be admiration for Prince Harry's determination to share the hardships and achievements of other British soldiers serving in Afghanistan. At the same time there will be reservations about whether his presence has led to additional responsibilities and dangers for his comrades.

In an interview he gave before going to Afghanistan he said that he would “never want to put someone else's life in danger when they have to sit next to the bullet magnet.”