Prince Harry Declares: 'I'm No Hero'

03/02/2008 at 02:45 PM EST

Prince Harry Declares: 'I'm No Hero'
Prince Harry
Luke MacGregor /Reuters/ Landov
Back home from Afghanistan, Prince Harry has spoken about the suffering faced by fellow soldiers, and insists the military – and the media – can find a way for him to return to frontline duty.

Despite the plaudits that have rained down on him since news of his secret military role was revealed, Harry, 23, said, "I wouldn't say I'm a hero."

"There were two injured guys who came back on the plane with us who were essentially comatose throughout the whole way," he said in an interview shortly before returning to England on Saturday. "One had lost two limbs – a left arm and a right leg – and another guy who was saved by his mate's body being in the way but took shrapnel to the neck.

"Those are the heroes," he continues, "Those were guys who had been blown up by a mine that they had no idea about, serving their country, doing a normal patrol."

Looking Forward to a Bath

He says he is "looking forward to having a bath," but did not talk of his planned celebration Saturday evening with Prince William and other relatives. His girlfriend, Zimbabean beauty Chelsy Davy, 22, left Leeds, where she is a university student, to be with him, a source says.

The officer prince told how he only realized he was being "extracted" from Afghanistan when he overheard coded conversations about him while he was out on patrol.

His fellow troops, whom he commanded in the last weeks of his deployment, were "pretty depressed with me" that he was leaving. And, as he tells it, his war was over in a few moments.

"No one knew about it," he says. "I just went up about an hour before I left and said, 'Look I'm off.'

"And they all thought, 'Lucky you, where are you going? Where are you going? Back down to Garmsir?' I was like, 'No, England.'

"Eventually they clicked, but they were upset, they were pretty depressed with me and they were just like, 'It would be nice to keep you here'."

Duty a Life Highpoint

Despite his disappointment of how it ended, Harry said that the tour was one of the highlights of his life, and spoke of the beauty of the wilderness where he had even heard birds sing.

"I enjoyed being out there, every element had something different about it but actually being out in the middle of nowhere, with the stars out, is just a fantastic place to be," he says. "It's hard to actually bring yourself back to reality and say, 'No I could actually get shot at any point' just because the area itself was so nice."

He praised the media who had known about his deployment but had agreed to keep it secret.

"I hope that this has now been proven that the system can work and the British press go along with the deal, everything in place has proved that it can actually work," he says.

He will have discussions with his commanding officers and army chiefs in the near future.

"So I don't see why it can't work again," he says.

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