The Times – Tour de Force<br/> The public should salute Prince Harry’s deployment in Afghanistan

The decision to revisit such a delicate issue and to deploy to Afghanistan in secret was also right – and imaginative and bold. It reflects well on the Army for taking a clear-eyed view of Prince Harry’s usefulness not just as a joint terminal attack controller (for that has been his role, co-ordinating groundtroops’ movements with those of fast jets above them) but as a strategic asset. In the Falklands conflict, and down the centuries before it, members of the Royal Family have fought in Britain’s wars with varying degrees of distinction but almost always with a morale-boosting effect that is no less real for being hard to measure. If civilian readers of this newspaper feel a swelling of old-fashioned pride on hearing of the Prince’s service in his forebears’ footsteps, that will be as nothing compared with the pride felt by those in uniform. …

His tour of duty has been made possible by a rare compact with the British media. Notorious, sometimes rightly, for pushing the boundaries of public figures’ privacy to breaking point, Britain’s newspapers and broadcasters kept this compact until a US outlet broke it yesterday. General Dannatt’s disappointment at the collapse of his worldwide embargo is understandable. Yet for it to have lasted so long is little short of miraculous. Now that his presence on the front line is in the public domain, the principles applied for Iraq should apply in Afghanistan: security comes first. That does not preclude future tours, but if it means this one is over, it has already served a noble purpose.

Meanwhile:

Times Online – Taleban threaten to step up attacks after ‘Royal aggression’ by Prince Harry

Shortly after Army chiefs confirmed that the Prince would be flown out of Afghanistan for security reasons, a Taleban spokesman said that his presence in Helmand province mean that the Royal Family had joined in the “aggression against Muslims”.

It was the insurgent group’s first reaction to the news that Harry had been directly involved in a combat tour in the area.

“Prince Harry’s presence in Afghanistan encourages our fighters to launch more attacks on British forces,” Zabihullah Mujahid said. “The Royal Family is now directly participating in the aggression against Muslims.”

For crying out loud. Would they listen to themselves?

Update:

The Times – The Prince returns, a hero and an enemy (accompanied by him looking badass in desert fatigues, shades and a pistol; and one of him being helped out of some club looking rather off his legs)

As the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff queued up to heap praise on the 23-year-old second lieutenant, protection for the Prince is to be upgraded. Al-Qaeda websites posted death threats against him yesterday after the worldwide coverage of his ten weeks in Helmand province, Afghanistan. In stark contrast, army message boards carried unanimous praise for the Prince.

And of course:

The Times has seen messages posted on a password-protected al-Qaeda forum, al-Ekhlaas, calling for Prince Harry to be beheaded and a video of his murder to be sent to the Queen.

Arabic news items and photographs of the Prince on duty in Helmand were added to the jihadi sites. One posting said: “Nothing will break the heart of his grandmother but only if she loses him. My dear brothers in Allah, carry on provoking to kidnap this precious infidel.”

Good friggin grief.