Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

August 28, 2012

would you send your son to war?

The deliberations over whether or not to send Prince Harry -- third in line to the British throne -- to a war zone are now over, and while it may have been fitting for the royal family to send one of their own sons to war along with yours and mine, the question remains whether any family really wants to put a son - or a daughter - into such danger.

The job for which Harry trained -- a reconnaissance troop commander of 11 soldiers, equipped with four Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicles, with A Squadron of The Blues and Royals, part of the Household Cavalry -- was considered too dangerous for him to fulfill. It was then proposed that a Ministry of Defence film crew would follow Prince Harry -- known as Cornet Wales -- during his tour of duty in Iraq, but since his role in Iraq would rarely involve him leaving the confines of the British base at Basra in southern Iraq, there would not have been much of substance to film, would there?

The Ministry of Defence planned to release footage of Harry in Iraq to television channels and the Internet in hope that it will counteract the propaganda effect of the videos of hostages and wrecks of British aircraft that insurgent groups have been using.

It was expected that the film will be scrutinised for any information that could be used by insurgent groups to locate Prince Harry, but in view of the threats already made to kidnap the prince, it was finally agreed that the proposed propaganda film would only inflame the situation.

Because operational security of British troops is of paramount importance, the Ministry of Defence decided against treating the war as a vehicle for pandering to the public's huge interest in Prince Harry.

Most members of the prince's Household Cavalry Regiment are already in Basra on a six-month tour of duty, and Harry was held back from the recent handover between units as it was feared his arrival would be disruptive. Bearing in mind that one of the reconnaissance roles in southern Iraq includes patrolling the border with Iran in Maysan province where 12 soldiers have already been killed in action, the arrival of the prince with a Hollywood style film crew would not have gone down too well.

Nowhere in the British area of responsibility in southern Iraq is considered safe, and while Prince Harry has to be applauded for desiring to serve in Iraq -- and be treated like anyone else in the Army -- the plain fact of the matter is that the days of the warrior prince are long gone and he is NOT like anyone else. For starters, Prince Harry did not meet the minimum entry requirements to Sandhurst, no other soldier was to get a film crew to follow him around and, finally, he is a symbol of our constitutional monarchy, which other soldiers are not.

The decision to send Prince Harry to Iraq as a propaganda prince -- sending a strong message of commitment by Britain to Iraq -- was based on constantly monitored security conditions in Iraq which showed that the presence of Harry would not unduly heighten the risk of his unit being targeted by insurgents.

However, this decision flew in the face of threats from insurgent groups which put a very high price on his killing or kidnapping and do not want him in their country. Prince Harry's arrival would be seen as inflaming the situation and his presence in Iraq would jeopardize the safety of the other British soldiers.

It was not just unfriendly fire that the prince's minders had to worry about. British troops are also at the mercy of friendly-fire attacks due to the Ministry of Defence's failure to develop a combat identification system to warn off coalition partners from targeting them.

Prince Harry?s presence would definitely be dangerous for the soldiers around him, and the prospect of his getting kidnapped or killed would precipitate a strike back causing a whole new and unexpected chain of events. A regional war could grow into a much bigger war.

Bearing in mind that the Government has announced that British troops will be withdrawn from Southern Iraq sometime this year, there was reason to inflame the situation by sending in Prince Harry -- as an active duty troop commander or as a propaganda prince. The war in Iraq has nothing to do with British defence or patriotism.

Prince Harry's arrival in Iraq would have undoubtedly led to intensified insurgent activity, and if more British soldiers were killed as a result of this there will have been a backlash against him and the monarchy.

As Church of England spokesmen pointed out, the royal family should be kept out of political matters. By sending the prince to Iraq, the royal family might appear to lend support to the war, and this would jeopardize the constitutional neutrality of the monarchy.

No doubt Prince Harry is very disappointed by the final decision NOT to send him to Iraq, but a warrior prince -- or even a propaganda prince -- is definitely not a fitting role for royalty to play in the 21st century (which begs the question: why was he trained for the role to start off with?).

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