|Prince Harry has been secretly fighting in Afghanistan for 10 weeks, admits MoD
28th February 2008
'This gives me my best chance to be normal'
Prince was told by the Queen he would fight
'I would never want to put someone else's life in danger by being a bullet magnet'
Harry has been 'a credit to his nation', says general
Prince Harry has been fighting the Taliban on the front line in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence confirmed today.
The 23-year-old Household Cavalry officer has spent the past 10 weeks secretly serving in war-ravaged Helmand Province and was there over Christmas. He has already directed one bomb attack, dismissed fears that he will be a "bullet magnet", and sworn he does not miss "anything".
The deployment had been cloaked in secrecy under a news blackout deal agreed across the UK media to prevent details reaching the Taliban and endangering Harry and his comrades. But the arrangement broke down today after news was leaked out on the US website the Drudge Report.
The Prince takes aim with a rifle in Afghanistan
Prince Harry, pictured here in Afghanistan, has been serving in the war-torn country for ten weeks, the MoD confirmed today
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Australian magazine New Idea and German newspaper Bild also both broke the embargo on the news.
As part of the deal a group of journalists had visited the prince in Helmand on condition that details would only be publicised once he was safely back in the UK.
The deal was arranged after Harry's planned tour to Iraq last year had to be cancelled because of a security risk sparked by publicity.
Harry had sworn to quit the Army if he was not sent to fight
He later swore he would quit the Army if he was not allowed to fight.
As the Prince flew out to Afghanistan in December he brushed off fears he would become a "bullet magnet", saying: "I just want to do my bit."
"I would never put someone else's life in danger when they have to sit next to the bullet magnet," he said in an interview at Clarence House before he flew out to the war-torn country in December.
"But if I'm wanted, if I'm needed, then I will serve my country as I signed up to do.
"I don't think it's putting anybody at risk at all ... if I can get out there without anyone actually making it public - which is basically what's happening at the moment with the deal that's being made with numerous papers - things are looking up."
The party-loving Prince also joked about the fact there would be no nightclubs in Afghanistan.
Speaking before his departure he admitted the disappointment of being told last year he could not go to Iraq for security reasons made him wish he was not a prince.
"I wish that quite a lot actually," he said.
"William and I have said numerous times that there's a lot of opportunities that we miss out on - as well as we also got a lot of chances - for who we are.
"But at the beginning of this year (2007), it was very hard and I did think, 'well, clearly one of the main reasons that I'm not likely to be going was the fact of who I am'.
"So yes, I did think at that time that I wished I wasn't, but at the same time I'm very grateful for the job that I've got and the way that things are."
He said he was pinning his hopes on a taste of normality away from the royal life he has known since birth.
"I think dressed in the same uniform as numerous other people, thousands of other people in Afghanistan will give me one of the best chances to be just a normal person: with a helmet on, with a shemagh (scarf) with goggles on, whatever," he said.
"As far as anybody else is concerned they will just treat me as just a normal officer out there, hopefully.
"That will be massively important for me, it could be a turning point."
He flew out on December 14, two months into the current winter tour.
He spent several weeks working in Garmsir in the far south of Helmand Province, operating just 500m from front line Taliban positions.
He has since left Garmsir to work in another part of Helmand Province, details of which can not be reported for security reasons.
There is no immediate steer from the Ministry of Defence on the future of his deployment.
Earlier this week a Royal Marine became the 89th British fatality in Afghanistan - the third killed there this year, and the second in one week.
The marine was trying to disrupt Taliban fighters in the southern province of Helmand when he was caught in a bomb blast.
The deaths followed a week of bomb explosions in southern Afghanistan, where the death toll from two days of suicide attacks rose to more th