G'day Harry: Prince could do stint in Aussie army

By Greg Ansley

Top-level talks on where battle-hardened royal could serve six months with diggers

Captain Harry Wales, third in line to the British throne, may become a temporary digger. Officials are discussing the possibility of the Prince spending six months with the Australian army in a role yet to be determined.

He could join the army's 1st Aviation regiment in Darwin flying Tiger attack helicopters, similar to the American-built Apaches he flew in combat in Afghanistan, or be seconded to another job.

With no Tigers operating overseas and most Australian troops withdrawing from Afghanistan by the end of the year, Prince Harry would be unlikely to serve in any hazardous operations.

But he would bring front-line experience with him. The Prince served two tours in Afghanistan, the first in 2008 as a forward air controller calling in air strikes on Taleban insurgents.

He was the first of the royal family to face combat since his uncle, Prince Andrew, a Royal Navy captain, flew Sea King helicopters off the aircraft carrier Invincible during the 1982 Falklands War on anti-ship missions and as a decoy for Argentinian Exocet missiles.

Prince Harry returned to Afghanistan for four months last year, flying Apaches on combat missions during which he told an interviewer that he had killed insurgents.

"Yeah, so lots of people have," he said. "If there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game, I suppose," he said.

The Prince, who serves with the Household Cavalry, was also trained in armour and commanded Scimitar reconnaissance vehicles.

Beyond his military service, his larrikin adventures - drinking, shedding clothes and going as a Nazi to a fancy dress party among them - have endeared him to Australians.

His reported enthusiasm for spending time with diggers has powerful support.

His father, Prince Charles, has often enthused about the country since the two terms he spent as a high school student at the exclusive Geelong Grammar School's Timbertop campus in the Victorian Alps in 1966.

Prince Harry's girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, worked in Sydney as an au pair and reportedly also wants to spend more time in Australia.

But if and when the Prince joins the diggers remains uncertain.

The Australian reported yesterday that high-level talks were continuing between his residence, Clarence House in London, the British Army and Australian officials.

Prince Harry already has a heavy workload, continuing his military career and performing royal duties.

He will also visit the United States next month to support veterans' rehabilitation, and at the end of the year will join four wounded British veterans trekking to the South Pole in a race against an American team and another of Australian and Canadian vets.

- NZ Herald

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