A Royal Insider writes from London: We think it’s all rather good. HRH Harry is a natural hero. Looks good in the fighting gear unlike the second in line to the throne, Prince William, who’s not at all rufty-tufty with that silly girl’s wave of his. Good pilot, mind you, but more Imperial Airways than kick-ass.
Prince Harry? He kicks ass and doesn’t just chase it. His senior instructor tells me that he ‘brings class to the store’ (Americans really do have a way with their language).
So that’s the first consideration. Prince Harry looks the part and has that edge to him that matches the Apache pilot image. Big machine. Huge firepower. No prisoners. I must say that along the Privy Purse Corridor in the Palace it’s always been assumed that he would return to Afghanistan. Unfinished business, you see.
Some people have been pointing out for ages that you can’t just train Harry – I can’t imagine how many millions that cost – and then say that he can’t do it for real. That would have been the end of his career. He would have been a waste of space in the Corps and binned as a toy soldier among his colleagues. The shame and his fury would have been unenviable. He’d have resigned his commission, having no other option.
So when the time came for his new deployment (which we’ve all known about for simply years) and that 662 (662 Squadron 3 Regiment Army Air Corps – Harry’s unit) was still in the order of battle then as long as there wasn’t a Horlicks in his Top Gun thing in the United States, then that was the decider.
(Incidentally, Her Majesty really does think Top Gun is a fun name and so, curiously, does the Duchess of Cambridge – but then they are rather close and I think she’ll miss him most of all).
Having said all this, you can imagine the What If Thingy’s flying up and down the Corridor. What happens if we get an HRH Harry down signal? Exactly what would have happened for my predecessor if the Palace had got one when the Duke of York was flying in the Falklands Affair. A thousand years of monarchy and protocol takes everything in its stride.
What about this Green on Blue thing? There is rather a lot of it about. Let’s not tempt fate – or anything else. He won’t be having a huge amount to do directly with the Afghan National Army.
Another thing, the CDS (Chief of the Defence Staff) the nice David Richards (don’t you think it’s so very odd that he looks exactly like the Froggy Fellow François Hollande) says a lot of these terrible shootings of NATO people by Afghans is all about the Afghans being humiliated in front of their fellow ANAs by Americans.
And Richards (do compare his pictures with President Holland’s) says the force protection will be efficient for the whole squadron and not just him. Of course we’re already hearing rumblings that Taliban are saying that HRH’s deployment is proof of British imperial ambitions and that they’ll wipe him out. That’s all terribly silly but inevitable and will probably get louder if his squadron take out Taliban.
Far more dangerous is what happens when the British red tops start reporting that Harry Gets First Kill etc etc etc.
We couldn’t stop the Sun newspaper running ‘those pictures’ from Las Vegas and so I’m sure they’ve already written their headlines for Afghanistan.
I suppose Vegas was a pity. Actually it was more than that. Imagine if it had been a couple of corporals caught on camera. They’d have been disciplined, fined and maybe lowered in rank. But not for Prince harry. He’s taken his ribbing and that’s it, although I do hear that some of his squadron think he’s a bit of a good man because of it.
So there we have it. Four months of nail biting and a 24-hour signals watch. Of course the army will love this. They need all the live hero stuff they can get. They really do take all that And Last Night Another British Soldier…. to heart. They also know that the public is getting a bit fed up with the war and being asked to pay for it. So when he’s back (Pray God) they’ll have the biggest PR event of the war. Mind you, so will Las Vegas.
I can just hear Cathy Tull of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority claiming his Harry’s Top Gun success was all down to his somewhat basic training in Sin City?