Prince Harry's Iraq role in question

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Army chiefs are continually reviewing their decision to send Prince Harry to Iraq, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed.

The planned deployment of the 22-year-old prince is under "constant consideration", the MoD revealed today.

Confirmation that military commanders are carefully monitoring the situation surrounding Prince Harry's forthcoming posting in Iraq follows a newspaper report which claims that senior army officers may introduce a last minute battlefield ban on the third in line to the throne, barring him from taking part in any combat there.

The increasing emergence of highly-publicised threats against the prince by insurgents has led army bosses to fear that his presence on the front line will endanger other troops serving with him, the Sun reports.

"There is a groundswell of opinion across senior ranks now that to allow Harry to serve in the open with his men will lead to an inevitable disaster," an unnamed army source told the newspaper.

However, the MoD said that it was still the army's intention that Prince Harry should serve as a troop commander in Iraq.

Sources close to the prince are reported to have said that he would be extremely disappointed if he could not join his troops on duty in Iraq. In an interview to mark his 21st birthday he said he would not be happy to complete military training only to remain at home while his fellow soldiers were fighting for their country.

His Blues and Royals regiment are set to be deployed in the troubled country next month to carry out reconnaissance work and gather intelligence using armoured fighting vehicles.

"Prince Harry's deployment to Iraq, as we have always said, is under constant consideration," an MoD spokeswoman said.

"It is still our intention that Prince Harry will deploy as a troop leader," she added.

Whether the prince should serve in a war zone – as a number of his family members did during the last century – has drawn an intense level of debate today.

The Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, himself a former army officer, has dismissed those calling for Prince Harry to remain in Britain.

"There's no doubt that the situation is deteriorating, more soldiers are being killed and it would be quite wrong for us to value a member of the royal family's life more than we value the life of a humble private or a humble trooper," he told BBC's Radio Five Live programme.

"I think it sets an outstanding example to the ordinary people of this country that a member of the royal family is prepared to do this."

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