Prince Harry Prepares to Head to Iraq
02/20/2007 AT 09:00 AM EST
Harry, 22, a trained reconnaissance troop commander, is scheduled to be heading to the war-torn country with other members of his Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry, a source close to the situation tells PEOPLE
It has been widely reported in the British media that Harry is set to go to Iraq and CNN confirmed through a military source that he is scheduled serve in the gulf.
However, both the Ministry of Defense and Harry's handlers at the palace refused to confirm the story.
A Ministry of Defense spokesman tells PEOPLE that the reports are "entirely premature." The ministry has not announced which units are going in the next wave of deployment – and that, according to protocol, will first be done in the UK Parliament, by the Defense Secretary Des Browne. It is rumored that the statement will be made on Feb. 26.
Officials at the palace also have no comment, calling the reports "speculative".
Prince Harry has made no secret of his desire to go and join the war effort. In an interview to mark his 21st birthday in 2005, he said, "There's no way I'm going to put myself through Sandhurst [Military Academy] and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country."
However, should Harry ship out, there have been intense discussions over his role, as officials and defense chiefs are mindful that his very presence could draw unwanted attention and danger to his colleagues.
Last month, Harry took a specialist course that all servicemen and women who are to deploy in the war zone have to complete – a move that added to the speculation that he was about to head to Iraq.
The prince entered the elite military academy of Sandhurst in May 2005, graduating in the spring of last year. On graduation he became a second lieutenant – or, in the language of the regiment, Cornet.