After all the speculation, it’s finally been announced that Prince Harry will not be serving in Iraq. The military officials who had to make the decision were in a no-win situation – they would have been criticised whichever conclusion they came to. In the end, it seems they have done what was best for all of their troops.
Prince Harry himself had wanted to go to Iraq, so will be very disappointed at the decision. It seems strange, therefore, that many people have said he is receiving special treatment. In fact, like any other member of the armed forces, Harry must obey orders. The top brass come to their decisions for operational reasons, and in this case the decision is that Harry will not go to Iraq. If the Prince had then been able to twist their arms and be granted his wish to serve in Iraq, then he would be receiving special treatment. But as with any other officer who is not deployed abroad for whatever reason, if Harry’s posting is to sit behind a desk somewhere at HQ, that’s what he must do.
One of the most outspoken critics of the decision is Reg Keys, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2003. While one has to feel some sympathy for Mr Keys, his comments can hardly be considered the most objective. He said the decision was “distasteful” and that, “It would appear that Harry’s life is more valuable than my son or the other nearly 150 service personnel who’ve given their lives.” He also questioned whether insurgents in Iraq would be able to identify the Prince.
No-one is saying one person’s life is more valuable than another. The fact is, sending Harry to Iraq would put all British troops in unnecessary extra danger as insurgents attempted to kill or capture the Prince. Mr Keys may have a point in that they would find it hard to identify an officer as Harry, but that would surely only mean an increase in attempts on the life of other officers. All of the other soldiers in the country would face increased attacks on their convoys, resulting in more British casualties. They all have parents, ordinary people like Mr Keys, who would then have to ask why one Prince’s wishes to see service in Iraq had been put before the safety of their own sons and daughters.