IN this space on 27 April, and under this same headline, I argued strongly that Prince Harry should not go to Iraq with his Troop. One week later Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the Army responded to intense media speculation on the matter in these terms: “I, as chief of the general staff will take the decision as to whether Prince Harry should or should not deploy. The decision has been taken that he will deploy.” Yesterday, however, Sir Richard said that he had changed his mind and that Prince Harry “will not deploy as Troop Commandant with his Squadron”. The reasons he gave for this about turn were almost exactly the same as the ones I used here three weeks ago, namely that Prince Harry would be a prime target for insurgents and kidnappers and that protecting him would put at additional risk those serving with or close to him. These risks were evident to anyone who gave the matter a moment's thought and it is astonishing that Britain's most senior soldier was either unaware of them or preferred to ignore them until, as he said yesterday, he paid a visit to Iraq last week. Once again, as with the recent Iran incident, Britain's top military brass and the Ministry of Defence seem to have lost completely their sense of public relations.
Prince Harry will be extremely disappointed; but he has shown beyond doubt that he was ready to do his duty as a soldier.