Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Prince Harry's wartime role grabs media attention

Prince Harry's admission that he killed Taliban fighters while working as a helicopter gunner in Afghanistan drew intense coverage in the British media on Tuesday and sparked concerns about possible reprisals.

The 28-year-old prince spoke in a pooled interview published late Monday after he was safely out of Afghanistan. He had spent the past 20 weeks deployed as a co-pilot and gunner in a heavily armed Apache attack helicopter.

Asked whether he had killed from the cockpit, the third-in-line to the British throne said: "Yeah, so, lots of people have."

The response was immediate Tuesday: The Daily Mirror tabloid ran a page-one headline "Royal Sensation Harry: I Killed Taliban" along with a photo of a macho-looking Harry in combat gear and designer shades.

Other papers ran similar gung-ho stories. "Harry: I Have Killed" was the story in the Daily Mail. Video shot during the prince's deployment was shown dozens of times on Britain's major news networks.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Defense Minister Mark Francois praised Harry, saying the prince should be commended for his bravery. He "has done well for his country," Francois said, offering kind words for a prince who has occasionally embarrassed the royal family, most recently by being photographed naked as he played strip billiards at a Las Vegas hotel.

Not everyone was applauding the soldier-prince. Former officer Charles Heyman, who edits a yearbook on British forces, said his words may raise the already high threat level against him.

"The royal family are all targets, and he now probably becomes the prime target, royal family-wise," Heyman said. "But he can live with that. He's a soldier, he knows what he's doing."

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