LONDON, Jan 14 - Britain's Prince Harry, an army officer and third in line to
the throne, will receive training to prepare for deployment in Iraq, a newspaper
said on Sunday.
Harry's regiment, the Blues and Royals, has been earmarked to serve in Iraq
from April, according to the News of the World.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth smiles with
Prince Harry during the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy
in Sandhurst, southern England April 12, 2006. Harry, once dubbed a royal
wild child for underage drink and drug antics, graduated as an army
officer on Wednesday before joining a regiment that could be sent to Iraq
or Afghanistan. [Reuters]
Some 7,100 British troops are stationed mostly in the south of Iraq where
they are battling insurgents.
A spokesman for Clarence House, which speaks on behalf of the princes, would
not confirm the newspaper report.
"No decision on deployment has been made yet," the spokesman said.
Defence officials said earlier this year it was intended that Harry undertake
a full range of operations but his deployment or presence in a conflict zone may
be reconsidered if he were to become a specific target.
The Ministry of Defence was not immediately available for comment.
Harry, 22, and other members of his regiment will attend an Operational
Training and Advisory Group (OPTAG) course this week, which is only given to
troops heading for a war zone, the News of the World said.
The two-day course will drill Harry and his comrades in basic Iraqi Arabic --
part of the army's strategy to win hearts and minds. The soldiers will also be
trained in local customs and living in extreme conditions, the paper said.
Prince William is also in the Blues and Royals but cannot serve in a war zone
because he is second-in-line to the throne.
Harry, whose mother Princess Diana died in a Paris car crash when he was 12,
is a Second Lieutenant in the Household Cavalry.
Once dubbed a wild child for underage drink and drug antics, he made it clear
in an interview to mark his 21st birthday that he would not shy away from action
and the ministry stressed that he had joined to become an "operational soldier".
Ministry of Defence figures show that 129 British military personnel have
died in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.