Prince Harry Off to War
But, of course, there was more: Harry was days away from shipping out to Iraq. "He will deploy," Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the British Army, announced on April 30, after weeks of discussion among military brass about whether to send the prince to war. Reports that Iraqi terrorist groups will target Harry caused concern his presence would endanger other troops. What's more, April was the second deadliest month for British soldiers in Iraq, with 12 killed. Two died when a roadside bomb ripped through their Scimitar reconnaissance tank—the same tank Harry is trained to use. According to Britain's The Times, Iraqi insurgents prepping for Harry's arrival may have targeted the soldiers in a dry run.
Is choppering the third in line to the throne into a war zone—and making him "the mother of all targets," as one worried senior army officer puts it—simply foolish? Or is deploying the prince noble and necessary? Dannatt ended the debate when he personally decided that Harry, a second lieutenant, will join a combat unit in southern Iraq, though officials could still assign him to a desk job there. The prince is "excited at the prospect" of fighting, says his godfather Gerald Ward, who admits he fears for Harry's safety but feels that soldiering is a proud British tradition. "This is what he's been trained to do."
A day after his quiet dinner, Harry was at a send-off party at London hot spot Mahiki with fellow deploying officers; once again, he seemed subdued, and left at 1 a.m. Still, going to war "is what Harry wants," says a friend. "He knows from those who have been at the sharp end that this is something that shapes you. This is an opportunity for him to prove himself."