Royal will be off to war

Published May 1, 2007

LONDON - The head of the British army said Monday that he had personally decided that Prince Harry, the third in line to the throne, will serve with a combat unit in Iraq.

Commanders reportedly had reconsidered their decision to allow the prince to fight in Iraq for fear that he would become a target of insurgents and that his presence could endanger other soldiers. Prince Harry's regiment, the Blues and Royals, is to begin a six-month tour of duty in Iraq within weeks.

Harry, a 22-year-old second lieutenant, is a tank commander trained to lead a 12-man team in four armored reconnaissance vehicles. If deployed, he would be the first royal to serve in a war zone since his uncle, Prince Andrew, a helicopter pilot in Britain's conflict with Argentina over the Falkland Islands in 1982.

The younger son of the late Princess Diana, Harry has been a frequent face on the front of Britain's tabloids. But after graduating from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst last year, Harry insisted on an opportunity to serve in the armed forces.