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Prince Harry gets marching order

May 01, 2007 12:15 PM IST India India

New Delhi: Prince Harry, the third in line to the British throne, will serve in the Iraq war.

General Richard Dannatt, head of British Army, says he personally decided to send Harry to Iraq. Second Lieutenant Harry, 22, is a tank commander and trained to lead a 12-man team.

He'll be the first British royal in a war zone since his uncle Prince Andrew flew a helicopter in the 1982 Falklands War. Islamist groups have already threatened to target him. Harry's commanders had earlier decided not to let him go, as his presence might endanger other soldiers.

The Associated Press reports that British commanders reportedly had reconsidered their decision to allow the prince to fight in Iraq for fear he would become a target of insurgents. Harry's regiment, the Blues and Royals, is due to begin a six-month tour of duty in Iraq within weeks.

Over the past two weeks, newspapers have reported threats by Iraqi insurgents to kill or kidnap the prince, including claims his photograph had been widely circulated among militants. Military chiefs acknowledge that Harry would be an attractive target and that his presence could lead to a surge in attacks on British forces.

Dannatt said the decision would be kept under review, but he hoped his statement would end media speculation on Harry's deployment.

''The decision has been taken by myself that he will deploy in due course,'' Dannatt said. ''I would urge that the somewhat frenzied media activity surrounding this particular story should cease in the interests of the overall security of all our people deployed in Iraq.''