Events may prove me wrong - he may be kept safely away from harm and bring peace and harmony to the region - but it seems to me that Prince Harry's deployment to Iraq is a terrible decision. Gen. Dannatt, the army chief, said it was his decision, but if it was, it shouldn't have been. Tony Blair has repeatedly washed his hands of it, saying it was a decision solely for the Army. The Queen has said nothing, as usual. But only Tony Blair, as prime minister, along with his Cabinet, was properly qualified to make such a decision, as it involves not only military factors but also political and constitutional issues as well. If Blair and the Cabinet did delegate the decision down to the military, that's crazy, irresponsible and scandalous.
When soldiers join the Army, they make an oath of allegiance:
I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, her heirs and successors in person, crown and dignity against all enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors and of the generals and officers set over me. [Wikipedia]
If Harry were to be true to the above oath, he would not go to Iraq; he is an heir and possible successor to Her Majesty; but he is young and headstrong. If Richard Dannatt were to be true to his oath and considered the constitutional as well as the military factors involved, he would rescind his decision, if indeed it ever was his. I don't know whether prime ministers take oaths of allegiance upon assuming office but maybe they should (- Blair's allegiance appears to be to America and its ideology, not to Britain and its heritage). Blair's overriding duty should have been to protect and defend the British national interest, which is symbolized by the Crown, and that includes its human representatives, the monarch, her heirs and successors, and that includes Prince Harry, until William fathers children. But Blair and his fellow ministers have shirked their responsibility.
Even if Harry is to be safely secreted at a desk on the British base, he will still be deploying under the aegis of the Stars and Stripes, a foreign power. (The Brits have operational control of the south, but not overall strategic control, which is with the Pentagon and the White House.) He is a symbol of British sovereignty, a possible future king, yet he is to be deployed as a soldier in a military coalition led by America - it sends out all the wrong signals about our subordinate relationship to the US, about how our sovereignty has seeped away across the Atlantic during the Blair years. Symbolism matters.
Below I pointed out the fallacy of comparing Harry's deployment with Andrew's in the Falklands. Other commentators, such as the Independent, have made the comparison with Prince Edward in the First World War.
In August 1914, Prince Edward, the future Edward VIII - and, after his abdication, the Duke of Windsor - asked for a commission, having trained with the Navy since 1907. He joined the Grenadier Guards, but soon learned that the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, had refused to allow him to serve on the front line. He tried to argue his case, but was told that the possibility of the enemy capturing him, and the added danger his presence in the trenches would mean for those around him, ruled it out. Despite this, Edward became the first Prince of Wales since the Black Prince to undertake war service in France, and visited the front line several times - leading to his award of the Military Cross in 1916.
Of course, unlike Prince Harry, Prince Edward was the direct heir to the throne, but, unlike his counterpart today, William, he did have four younger brothers and a sister, i.e. there were five spares if anything untoward happened. And still he was kept away from danger and from endangering others. (And his chain of command led to Whitehall, not Washington.) William and Harry, being Charles's only two children, in theory have thrice the sovereign value of Edward and his five siblings a century ago. Thus Harry, arguably, is constitutionally even more important to the realm than was Prince Edward at the start of WWI. So where's today's Kitchener when you need one?