Britain’s Prince Harry, an army officer and third in line to the throne, may be shielded from the frontline if his unit is sent to war, the Ministry of Defense said on Monday.
Harry’s deployment or continuing presence in a conflict zone might be brought into question if the prince, who graduated as an army officer this month, were to become a specific target, the ministry said.
There is a tradition of British royals serving in the armed forces. Harry’s uncle, the Duke of York, flew a helicopter in the Falkland’s War in 1982 and his great-grandfather King George VI saw action in World War I.
Harry, 21, who is in the infantry and is training to command 11 men and four light tanks in an armed reconnaissance unit, has insisted he wants a frontline role.
However, a ministry spokeswoman said his role would have to be carefully monitored.
“The intention is that Prince Harry will undertake the fullest range of deployments, both operational and training,” a ministry spokeswoman said.
“But on occasions there may be some circumstances where his overt presence might attract additional attention that could increase the potential risk to those he commands or himself,” she said.
Harry, whose mother Princess Diana died in a Paris car crash when he was 12, is a Second Lieutenant in the Household Cavalry. The regiment is due to go to Iraq next year and British soldiers are also deployed in Afghanistan.
Harry, once dubbed a wild child for underage drink and drug antics, made it clear in an interview to mark his 21st birthday this year that he would not shy away from action and the ministry stressed that he joined to become an “operational soldier.”
“There is no way I am going to put myself through Sandhurst (military academy) and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country,” he said.
Harry is the younger son of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne.