Harry on His Tour of Duty: 'As Normal as I'm Ever Going to Get'

Harry on His Tour of Duty: 'As Normal as I'm Ever Going to Get'
Landov

02/29/2008 AT 08:00 AM EST

From the culinary delights of Buckingham Palace to "Hell Man's Kitchen" in Afghanistan, Prince Harry was in his element.

"It's nice just to be here with all the guys and just mucking in as one of the lads," he said of his deployment, which was cut short since his secret tour of duty was reported Thursday. "I think this is about as normal as I'm ever going to get."

Upon arrival in Afghanistan in December, Harry was flown straight to Forward Operating Base (Fob) Dwyer, bypassing the relative comfort of the U.K.'s main Camp Bastion base, en route to Fob Delhi. Situated on the frontline as the southernmost allied position in Helmand, Fob Delhi (a bombed out former U.S.-built agricultural college) is where Harry was stationed last – though he is no longer there.

"This is the end of the road – in many ways really," remarked Major Mark Milford of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Gurkha Rifles, Harry's direct boss at Delhi. When asked if it is a safe place for a prince, Major Milford replied matter-of-fact: "No, not really."

But Harry didn't seem to mind.

"Yes, it has [a reputation] but when, you know, you are with the Gurkhas I think there's no safer place to be really," he said. "It's good fun to be with just a normal bunch of guys, listening to their problems, listening to what they think ... This is what it is all about."

Harry's Living Conditions

Harry shared a room with a constantly changing contingent of Royal Artillery soldiers. Temperatures plunge at night in the desert and there was no heating in sleeping areas, almost no running water in camp and little shelter from the elements.

"It's bizarre," he said. "I'm out here now, haven't really had a shower for four days, haven't washed my clothes for a week and everything seems completely normal."

Showers are simply a bag hung up in an outdoor wooden cubicle – hot water is available from a mini boiler called a "Puffing Billy" – and rounded ends of missile cases are used as shaving bowls.

The food, however is surprisingly decent. At Fob Dwyer a British cook works daily wonders with 10-man ration packs producing pasta, curries and mashed potato for hungry troops in a tented cookhouse dubbed "Hell Man's Kitchen".

"What am I missing the most? Nothing really," said Harry. "I honestly don't know what I miss at all: Music, we've got music, we've got light, we've got food, we've got [non-alcoholic] drink."

Clearly conscious of his tabloid image in the U.K., he quickly added: "No, I don't miss booze, if that's the next question."
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