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    Prince Harry Pulled Out of Combat

    Too bad Prince Harry's camouflage didn't have the same effect on the international media as it did on the Afghanistan landscape.

    Just one day after the British Ministry of Defense confirmed reports that the third heir in line to the throne had been deployed on the front lines of the Middle East, officials announced they were pulling the royal from service out of concerns for his safety.

    The 23-year-old arrived in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan on Christmas Eve and has spent the last 10 weeks serving as a Tactical Air Controller, or J-TAC, where his primary function was to call up aircraft on bombing missions in support of ground forces.

    While that main duty was done from a fortified position, he was also regularly sent out on foot patrol, and the worldwide coverage all but pinpointing his location has led officials to safeguard the prince from targeted Taliban attacks by sending him home.

    The Ministry of Defense called the rampant reporting of Harry's deployment by "elements of the foreign media...regrettable," and said that while the prince was expected to return to Britain in a matter of weeks, the situation had now "clearly changed."

    "Following a detailed assessment of the risks by the operational chain of command, the decision has been withdraw Prince Harry from Afghanistan immediately," the Ministry said.

    The decision to pull Harry out of the combat zone comes after the collapse of a media blackout. While U.K. reporters and media outlets were already aware of his deployment, they entered into an embargo agreement with the military not to report on his service until he returned home safely.

    The jig was up, however, when the Drudge Report broke the news, in turn claiming that it had pieced together information from Australian press last month.

    Despite his getting pulled out—military officials are not saying how or when Harry will be brought home, and have asked the media not to speculate—in such a sudden and unexpected way, all involved say the prince, and his country, have every reason to be proud of the soldier.

    His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, said he had done "a good job in a very difficult climate."

    The British prime minister, Gordon Brown, said the nation owed him "a debt of gratitude" and thanked Harry for the "professionalism and dedication he has shown," but added that "security considerations come first."

    In exchange for their silence until now on Harry's deployment, several media outlets were granted access to the prince in Afghanistan, with the videos and interviews now being released freely.

    In a series of front-line interviews with BBC News, Harry, who was kept from being deployed to Iraq with the rest of his unit last spring due to safety concerns, stressed how important serving was to him and how it allowed him "an opportunity to be a normal person."

    When asked if he ever wished, given his denial last year to serve with his unit and the current concerns for his safety, as evidenced by his local Afghan nickname "the bullet magnet," if he wasn't a royal, he replied, "I wish that quite a lot, actually."

    "All my wishes have come true," he went on to say. "This is about as normal as I'm going to get."

    Harry also spoke, to his own surprise, of not missing any of the creature comforts of home.

    "I haven't really had a shower for four days, haven't washed my clothes for a week and everything seems completely normal...No, I don't miss booze, if that's the next question."

    Still, some of his replies, heard in the wake of the past two days' events, now carry with them a twinge of irony and, no doubt, regret.

    "I think now I've come out here, it's proved the point that if it's done the right way and kept quiet in certain areas, then it can be done. And as far as I'm concerned, I'm out here as a normal J-TAC on the ground and not Prince Harry.

    "No one really knows where I am, and I prefer to keep it that way in the meantime until I can get back home in one piece, and then I can tell everyone where I was."

    Harry also spoke of the support he got from family, from his grandmother the queen, who was very "pro" him going; to his "upset" and potentially jealous brother, William; his father, Prince Charles; and even his late mother, Princess Diana.

    "Hopefully she'd be proud. William sent me a letter saying how proud he reckons she would be...She'd be looking down and having a giggle about the stupid things I've been doing, going left when I should have gone right, the awkward position I was in earlier today," he said. "I've only been out here for a short time. I hope to be out here for a lot longer."




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