Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, is to join the elite Household Cavalry, Buckingham Palace said on Wednesday, a role that could mean his being sent to conflict zones like Iraq or Afghanistan.
Harry — once dubbed by newspapers the royal “wild child” for his underage drink and drug antics — will join the Blues and Royals regiment of the Cavalry when he completes his training at the elite Sandhurst military academy in April.
The Ministry of Defense said it was possible that Harry, who will join the armored reconnaissance unit of the Blues and Royals, could serve in conflict zones with his squadron.
“There is every chance that he will serve in operations,” a ministry spokeswoman said.
One of the squadrons of the Blues and Royals is currently training for possible deployment in Afghanistan, but it had not yet been decided whether it would be sent into operations, the spokeswoman said.
The Household Cavalry is also tasked with protecting Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, on ceremonial occasions, but the prince will be serving in the Armored Division, not in the Mounted Regiment.
Enthusiasm to serve
Harry, whose mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash in Paris in 1997, said last year he wanted a frontline role in the army.
“There is no way I am going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country,” he said in a string of interviews published to mark his 21st birthday last September.
Harry had chosen the Blues and Royals because had been impressed by its actions in conflict zones, the Palace said.
The flame-haired prince sparked international outrage last year when he wore a Nazi uniform to a costume party two weeks before Queen Elizabeth led Holocaust memorial ceremonies. He later said it had been a “very stupid thing” to do.
His older brother Prince William, who has just started his first term at Sandhurst, has also outlined his intention to serve on the front line.
But military experts have said their senior positions in the royal family may mean the risk is too great and that it would depend on whether royal aides would allow them to go.
Andrew Parker Bowles, ex-husband of Harry’s stepmother, Camilla, who married his father Prince Charles last year, also served with the Blues and Royals.
The Household Cavalry has been at the forefront of Britain’s military operations, including the Falklands war in 1982, the 1990 Gulf war and, more recently, in Bosnia and Kosovo.