Prince Harry, the third-in-line to the British throne, arrived in Afghanistan to start a tour of duty with the U.K. army, just two weeks after being embroiled in a scandal over photographs of him naked in a Las Vegas hotel.
Captain Wales, as the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II is known in the military, will be flying Apache helicopters out of Camp Bastion, in Helmand Province, the Ministry of Defense in London said in an e-mailed statement today.
“Captain Wales has deployed along with the rest of the squadron as part of a long-planned and scheduled deployment to provide support to ISAF and Afghan forces operating in Helmand,” Lieutenant Colonel Tom de la Rue, the deputy commander of the British forces’ Joint Aviation Group, said in the statement. “It is a demanding job for my soldiers and all of them, including Captain Wales, are now focusing on the job in hand.”
Harry, the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, made front-page headlines last month after photographs of him naked with friends at a Las Vegas hotel were published on the TMZ.com gossip website. His office played down the significance of the pictures, saying that he was on a private vacation. Harry was pictured wearing only a medallion and a wristband, with a naked woman in each shot.
The prince is a member of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, and served with British forces in Afghanistan in 2008, making him the first royal to fight in a war zone in more than 25 years. His last deployment ended early after media reports compromised his safety.
“As with all operational deployments, Captain Wales’s deployment has been long planned and the threat to him and others around him thoroughly assessed,” the defense ministry said. “Any risk posed by Captain Wales’s deployment, based on capability, opportunity and intent of the insurgency, has been, and will continue to be, assessed and has informed the decision to deploy him.”
“You train for war, it’s as simple as that,” Harry said in an ABC television interview in June 2010. “If we’re at war, then you want to be with your brothers in arms.”