Thursday, April 26, 2007

Overprotecting the Prince

. . .I pray to Thee, not that Thou shouldst remove the obstacles that stand in my way, but that Thou shouldst allow me to overcome them. . . .O my God, show me always where my duty lies; give me strength always to do it. . .

From a prayer, found written in the prayer-book of H.I.H. Napoléon Eugène Louis John Joseph, Prince Imperial of France -- killed in action while part of the British Army in Zululand, 1 June 1879. Written in the Prince’s own hand (in French). English text from a 1974 lecture by Mr. Alf Wade, as reported in Military History Journal (Vol. 3, No. 2) (South African Military History Society).
His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales (“Prince Harry”), besides being third in line for the British throne (behind his father and older brother), is a Cornet (2nd Lieutenant) in the Household Cavalry Regiment, which is scheduled to deploy to Iraq in May. H.R.H., known in the Royal Army as “Cornet Wales,” commands a reconnaissance platoon.

The British Ministry of Defence is apparently thinking of blocking the Prince’s deployment with his regiment. H.R.H. is, quite naturally, extremely upset, as is his regiment. I can understand wanting to be careful, and I can surely understand the misgivings of more senior officers terrified of the possibility of anything happening to H.R.H. while under their command. No question, there's risk involved. But if the Prince isn't to be deployed, why is he with a regiment to begin with ?

This business is just ludicrous. Some will remember that the Duke of York (Prince Andrew), uncle of Prince Harry, flew a Royal Navy helicopter in the Falklands War of 1982. Members of the Royal House have accompanied the British Army into action, well, forever. I can’t think that anybody with the monarchy’s interests at heart would use influence to block the Prince’s deployment.

Of course the Bad Guys can, and probably will, try to target the Prince. This goes with the territory -- H.R.H. is in the cavalry for God's sake. Besides, when it comes right down to it, the British have a royal heir. Two of them in fact. Prince Harry is the Spare, and a serving, trained, officer, and he should be allowed – as he wants – the opportunity to bring credit to his House and to take his chances with his regiment. I'm sure the Prince will obey whatever orders he's given, but he should be allowed to go.

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