At the start of the week it looked like the biggest story would be the white undershirt Harry wore at Sunday’s Sentable cup but then The Sun kicked a hornet’s nest. Thursday the tabloid ran a story on Harry’s future redeployment to Afghanistan. Apparently, he will be redeployed as a pilot with his division sometime next spring or summer, assuming he successfully completes his “conversion-to-role” training and there is still action in Afghanistan. Harry has always made it plain that he intends to return to active duty and his placement in Apache training showed the government intended to honor his wishes. Apache pilots are an elite bunch and it is unlikely the British army would waste money on expensive training for someone who would never be able to use it in battle. As one reporter said, the Apache is one of the safest places in combat and, out of available active duty roles, it makes sense as the one of choice for a “VIP” like Harry.
The following day saw papers spin new angles out of this story with The Sun and the Daily Mail both reporting on terrifying special training Harry would undergo before his deployment. The training – which supposedly prepares a solider for surviving being shot down – would entail Harry being dropped into the wilderness, being tracked by dogs, taken captive and psychologically tortured. The Sun’s illustration of the soldier’s survival kit , including a silk map and gold coins, looked like a diagram of cool toys you might find in a cereal box. Do they still put toys in cereal?
Meanwhile the Mirror stretched it by reporting that Harry would be given a secret identity (duh) and the Telegraph by publishing a non-specific warning from the Taliban. Their headline quotes the Taliban saying: “We’ll destroy you if we capture you in Afghanistan.” Further down in the body of the story though the terrorist spokesperson clarifies, “We treat them all the same…It doesn’t matter if he is a prince or a common soldier. If we find them we destroy them.” So the Taliban aren’t threatening Prince Harry specifically. They threaten all western soldiers. And Harry’s not being deployed specifically, at this time, but any active duty Apache-trained pilot can expect to be deployed. Thanks for the big breaking news, guys.
Sunday morning saw the first denouncement of the deployment piece with the horribly-titled story from the Daily Star “Army Rethink After Prince Harry Afghan Leak.” An unnamed army official claims Harry might be grounded after the leak. I’m calling B.S. on this “leak.” It seems like something a reporter with inches to fill spun out of nothing. Now the MoD and Clarence House are each saying they aren’t to blame while both look foolish. More links:
- Prince Harry to return to Afghanistan – The Telegraph
- Prince Harry likely to return to active frontline service in Afghanistan – The Guardian
- Be brave, Harry, and take up abseiling (scroll down) – Guardian Observer
Harry’s love life wasn’t left alone this week either. There have been rumors that Pippa Middleton split with her boyfriend which gave just the slightest life to that story. US Weekly teased all the Harry/Pip ‘shippers by putting them on the cover but the story inside basically trashes any notion that it could happen. US even claimed that Harry and Chelsy were together on the 10th after she returned from Ibiza. Chelsy was out and about a lot this week but according to Katie Nicholl, she won’t be out at Zara’s wedding.
Saturday Earl Spencer wed without the benefit of his nephews’ presences. Wills was probably waiting for a hiker to run out of power bars but Harry popped up at the Beaufort Polo Club. He awarded the trophy to England after they beat out New Zealand in an international test polo match. Sunday he was back at BPC playing in the Bernard Weatherill Charity Polo Day benefiting the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund. Cousins Zara, Peter and their families (Mike Tindall, Autumn and baby Savannah) were on hand to watch as well. Harry’s side lost but who really loses when there’s charity AND polo pics?