Wild about Harry in combat?

The third in line to the British throne is being shipped off to a combat zone in Iraq

Rocky Mountain News

By Mike Pearson

May 5, 2007

Much of the world press was wild with speculation about Prince Harry this week, and what it means now that the third in line to the British throne is being shipped off to a combat zone in Iraq.
The other night I watched for 45 minutes as talking heads on CNN debated the situation. They discussed every possibility - except whether the prince might actually bleed blue blood if he's injured.

Those against Harry's deployment cited an insurgent threat to target the royal, and how his presence might endanger fellow soldiers. You think? Because otherwise, I'm told, it's like Club Med over there.

Proponents took a more expected stance: No man, even a prince, is an island. The mere fact of his presence could be inspirational. It's not who he is that matters, it's what he represents.

Besides, British royals have been going off to fight the good fight since long before the Crusades. If there were still dragons, he'd probably be itching to slay a few of those.

I'm no ardent Anglophile, but I admired Harry when he said that he would quit the military if denied a chance to serve. He trained as a tank commander and dragged his "sorry arse" through Sandhurst military academy. He wasn't about to sit at home with the queen and her Welsh corgis watching the action on TV.

Prince Harry is hardly the first Windsor go into combat. His uncle Andrew served in the Falklands back in 1982. Not that it's the same thing; I've taken showers that lasted longer than the Falklands War.

And anyone of a certain age, say 50 and up, will recall that plenty of Hollywood royalty enlisted during World War II: Jimmy Stewart, Glenn Miller, Clark Gable, John Wayne et. al.

The Iraq war has become so partisan in recent months, that maybe Harry's action gives decision-makers a way to personalize the conflict. If a member of the British royal family can go to war, why not, say, the Bush twins? Give them some fatigues, a couple of howitzers and it's on. And you can't tell me that with a few hours training, Mary Cheney couldn't land a Blackhawk helicopter during a sandstorm with the best of them.

There are drawbacks, of course. If Harry were to be captured or beheaded (one of the threats), that's obviously a disaster. Even if he were just injured, it would be problematic. No offense, but he's the best looking of the bunch. Those Windsors are simply not a handsome people.

My first thought was maybe they could keep Harry home and send Camilla. She'd scare the Shiite out of them. Stepmothers do that, you know.

Then I thought how surreal it would be if the queen decided to pay a surprise visit to Baghdad during Harry's tour. Would she mingle with the locals? Would she still wear her pearls? Does the presence of Beefeaters signal an escalation in hostilities?

Mostly, I wondered if royal protocol still pertains to a war zone. They say you're not supposed to walk ahead of the queen. I guarantee that if a bomb goes off, people will start running over her; the need for speed trumps decorum every time.

Whatever happens to Prince Harry in Iraq, you can be sure the media will be there every step of the way. This story has everything we want in a fairy tale - except a guaranteed happy ending.

Should he stay or should he go?

The question's on the tip of almost everyone's tongue in England, but it's a subject of interest here as well: Should Prince Harry be deployed to Iraq?


pearsonm@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-2592.