Prince Harry, third in line to the throne, has been serving on the front line in Afghanistan with the British Army since December, it was announced Thursday (Feb. 28, 2008).
Harry, a lieutenant in the Household Cavalry regiment, has been deployed in the Helmand province for 10 weeks, where most of the 7,800 British troops in Afghanistan are based, the Ministry of Defense said. 89 British troops have died there since the start of operations in 2001.
His duties include calling in air strikes on Taliban positions and going out on foot patrols. A video of Harry shows the prince in Afghanistan dressed in camouflage fatigues patrolling arid and dusty terrain and firing a machine gun.
It was the first time in modern history that a member of the British royal family has faced such a dangerous deployment.
Prince Harry was scheduled to leave for Iraq in May or June 2007, with the regiment becoming responsible for patrolling the Maysan province, trying to stop Iranian smugglers bringing hi-tech weapons across the border of desert and marshes. Clarence House subsequently issued a statement that "Prince Harry is very disappointed that he will not be able to go to Iraq with his troop on this deployment, as he had hoped. He fully understands and accepts General Dannatt’s difficult decision, and remains committed to his Army career. Prince Harry’s thoughts are with his troop and the rest of the Battle Group in Iraq."
"His conduct on operations in Afghanistan has been exemplary," said the head of the army, Gen. Richard Dannatt. "He has been fully involved in operations and has run the same risks as everyone else in his battle group."
In a recorded interview, Harry said he was happy to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his colleagues.
"It's nice just to be here with all the guys and just mucking in as one of the lads," said Harry.
Harry’s deployment had not been reported under a news blackout agreed by British media to reduce the risk to the prince and his regiment.
The news embargo was broken, however, after reports of the prince's deployment were leaked by an Australian magazine and a German newspaper.
Harry was born Prince Henry Charles Albert David on September 15, 1984 in London, England. The second son of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Charles, Prince of Wales. Harry has one older brother, William.
Prince Harry attended Mrs Jane Mynors' nursery school, the pre-prep Wetherby School, and Ludgrove School in Berkshire. In September 1998, Harry started at Eton College in Windsor. Throughout his childhood and into the present day, Prince Harry has exhibited a passion for polo, and has told his father that his lifelong ambition is to be a professional player.
At his mother's funeral in Westminster Abbey on September 6, 1997, Prince Harry walked behind the cortege, accompanied by his brother, father, grandfather and uncle.
In November 1997, Harry accompanied The Prince of Wales to South Africa, where he met President Nelson Mandela and attended a Spice Girls concert. In 1998, both young Princes traveled with their father to Canada for brief public appearances and a skiing holiday in Whistler, British Columbia. In the summer of 1998, Prince Harry accompanied his father to France to watch England play in a World Cup match.
On the eve of his 18th birthday in 2002, Harry began to receive increasing amounts of press attention. His binge drinking and drug-taking made the headlines, which led to an enforced visit to a London drug rehabilitation and detox clinic. Headlines aside, young Harry undertook a series of public engagements linked to the four themes that dominated his late mother's official work: the homeless, drugs, AIDS and the elderly.
After finishing his studies at Eton College in 2003, Harry spent time in Australia and Africa. While in Africa, he worked at an orphanage in Lesotho, the small nation located inside South Africa . Harry later established a charity called Sentebale to help the nation's children and youth.
Harry graduated in 2006 from Britain's elite Sandhurst military academy after training to become a tank commander. After it was decided not to send him to Iraq, he considered quitting, but retrained as a battlefield air controller.
Harry recently expanded his charitable efforts, becoming the royal patron for three organizations: Dolen Cymru, WellChild, and MapAction. Along with his brother William, he hosted a special concert in July 2007 to celebrate his late mother's birthday and raise funds to support charities important to Princess Diana and the princes.
In November 2007, Harry and his girlfriend ended their three-year romance, The News of the World newspaper reported.
Chelsy Davy, 22, reportedly broke off the relationship after she discovered secret text messages from another woman on his mobile phone, according unnamed friends quoted in The Sun newspaper.
Davy was believed to have discovered the secret text messages after Harry returned from watching England's Rugby World Cup semi-final match against France in Paris on October 13.
The latest rift between the couple came amid reports that Davy, a Zimbabwe-born heiress to an African ranching and real estate fortune, was preparing to pack her bags and leave Britain, despite starting a law degree just two months prior in Leeds.
She was said to be sick of the cold weather there and unhappy with Harry's playboy lifestyle.
Later reports, however, indicated that Chelsy decided to give Prince Harry another chance, and they did it…