Prince Harry has ‘undermined his own security’: MPs and military figures warn Duke ‘has shot himself in the foot’ with his claims about killing Taliban and put troops at risk of revenge attacks
- Military chiefs fear Harry may have made himself a bigger target for terrorists
- Duke of Sussex disclosed he had killed 25 Taliban fighters while in Afghanistan
- Startling revelation was made in the prince’s bombshell tell-all, Spare
Prince Harry has undermined his own security and increased the risk of being targeted by Islamists in future revenge attacks after claiming in his memoir that he personally killed 25 Taliban insurgents while serving as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, MPs and military chiefs today warned.
The Duke of Sussex writes in his astonishing tell-all, Spare, how he regarded his targets as ‘chess pieces’, not people – in an admission that has sparked fury among military veterans, including some of Britain’s top commanders.
Questions are now being raised about whether Harry has ‘shot himself in the foot’ and made himself a bigger target with his startling revelation – with the Taliban today taunting the Duke as a ‘big mouth loser’ who ‘fled Afghanistan and hid in his grandmother’s palace’.
Ex-Army chief Colonel Richard Kemp today warned that Harry’s admissions could cause pro-Taliban sympathisers to be ‘provoked to attempt revenge’ against him and possibly ‘incite some people to attempt an attack on British soldiers anywhere in the world’.
The prince writes in his astonishing tell-all, Spare, how he regarded his targets as ‘chess pieces’, not people
Colonel Bob Stewart (left) – a Tory MP who commanded British troops in Bosnia – slammed the comments as ‘distasteful’. Former British Army Colonel Richard Kemp (right) said the Duke of Sussex’s decision to spill details in his upcoming autobiography ‘Spare’ amount to a ‘betrayal of the people he fought alongside’
By Rebecca English, Royal Editor
A former head of royal protection has condemned Prince Harry’s boasts about killing Taliban fighters as ‘foolish in the extreme’.
Retired chief superintendent Dai Davies said that the Duke of Sussex’s claims had increased the security risk not just to himself and his family – but the British public at large.
‘He has raised the risk to all of us by resurrecting the war in Afghanistan with his ill-advised comments, which are foolish in the extreme,’ he said.
‘In the UK we have a Coronation this year with a whole raft of public events. All it takes is one extremist seeking to make a point.’
Mr Davies, who has worked in police and security for more than 50 years, said that Harry’s comments would almost certainly prompt a review of royal security in the UK.
He added: ‘He has increased the risk not just to himself, his wife and children and also those who protect him in the US, but also to our Royal Family here in the UK.
‘This has raised the game. The Taliban has been quite quiet recently but this is a long term issue, you can’t predict when an attack is going to happen.
‘I would be recommending that RAVEC [the Royal and VIP Executive Committee] immediately undertake a risk assessment – not tomorrow but today – and where necessary take steps to increase protection. I think this should apply not just for senior royals but the more junior ones too who may be deemed easier to get at.’
The retired Met Police chief estimated there are around 10,000 Isis and Al Qaeda supporters still in the UK – who he described as a ‘real and present threat’.
Referencing author Salman Rushdie, who was subject to a Fatwa in 1989 and was stabbed on stage last year, Mr Davies added: ‘The combination of a fixated individual driven by ideology is extremely dangerous.
‘We have seen exactly the same issue with the attack on Salman Rushdie recently. It really is a genuine fear.’
He continued: ‘Harry’s decision is just inexplicable. He has added fuel to the fire. Boasting about how many Taliban he killed and describing them as pieces on a chessboard has raised the game. And coming from an ex senior royal? Well it just beggars belief.
‘The risk to both him and our Royal Family has been significantly heightened due to his foolish comments. I would really like to know whose idea it was to even discuss this. What kind of idiot are you, Harry?’
Referring to Harry’s legal battle over his security arrangements, Mr Davies said: ‘The irony of him doing this against a backdrop of taking the Home Office and the Met to court for pulling his [official police] bodyguards when he quit and moved to the US is lost on no one.
‘I can’t think of a more foolish thing for him to have done.’
The Duke – who is currently in a legal battle with the Home Office over security in the UK – also faces allegations that he wrote about his kill count in a tactical bid to get police protection when he visits Britain.
Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline: ‘This may, of course, be a tactic to get the security he feels he needs when he visits Britain, but it is surely irresponsible. Who is advising him, one wonders.’
He added: ‘It also occurred to me that he might be using this highly unusual admission to pressurise the Home Office into granting him what he wants, either to pay for round-the-clock police protection when he is here, or, alternatively, to be favourably assessed for taxpayer funded security which he lost when he and Meghan stepped down as senior working royals.
‘He is challenging the Home Office in court on this issue at the moment, the level of threat is assessed by the Executive Committee for Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec), which falls under the Home Office.
‘He believes there was a threat from extremists and neo-Nazis ad claims his security had been compromised after an incident when he visited Britain in summer 2021. Now it could credibly be claimed there is a new threat.
‘Harry could use this as a lever which could determine if he and Meghan attend the Coronation, always assuming the promised invitation arrives.’
A senior Tory backbencher with military links, who did not want to be named, warned that the security costs for the Duke and his family have ‘just gone up’, telling MailOnline: ‘Harry’s comments regarding his service in Afghanistan were extremely ill-advised.
‘A great man soldiers served in that theatre over 20 years and you will find very few of them who brag about the number of enemy they killed. What may play well in California does not necessarily play well in Britain.’
A Labour MP, who does not want to go public with criticism of Harry, said they had discussed the revelations with a group of veterans in their constituency and they had been horrified.
Col Kemp, who was sent to Kabul in 2003 to take command of forces in Afghanistan, told the BBC: ‘It inflames old feelings of revenge that might have been forgotten about… no doubt about it there are people in the world today who already would have seen this and will be thinking about getting him back.’
He added on Sky News: ‘It undermines his personal security. He has shot himself in the foot.
‘This will incite some people to attempt an attack on British soldiers anywhere in the world. The impact on his own personal security is even greater.’
Former National Security Adviser Lord Darroch also claimed he would have cautioned the Duke from disclosing his kill count.
And former Royal Marine commando Ben McBean suggested the prince had made himself a bigger target with his remarks.
Mr McBean told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘He’s already got a big target on his back and maybe it’s grown a bit more. But he’s in America, he’s got security… here in the UK they could think we can’t get to Harry but we could go to his old barracks. … you’re always a target anyway, but I just think flaring things up and bringing numbers out doesn’t really help’.
He added: ‘He’s done all sorts of things. I posted a tweet yesterday saying shut up mate and just enjoy your life if you can now and get on with it. Because it’s not nice when you see a good guy … even though a lot of people give him grief now, what he has done for the country and charities is more than most… so it’s a shame to see where he is.’
Another soldier who spoke to LBC said of Harry: ‘(His reputation) was excellent. He was in… a hugely important job… reputationally it was fantastic, but it was more from a morale perspective, knowing there was someone from the elite class of the royalty, whose grandmother you served, was out there doing stuff that you were doing… it was a huge boost and we loved it, absolutely loved it. It just reinforced that connection between the military person and the Royal Family.
‘I look back at that now and it’s ridiculous… it’s an unwritten rule, it doesn’t happen.’
A veteran who served in the Parachute Regiment also said: ‘If Harry had served in the Parachute Regiment, he would’ve kept his mouth shut.’
Reflecting on his own time in the army, Bob from Harrow told LBC: ‘I feel responsible for the lives that were lost, but I will never talk about that in specific detail.’
Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning, ex-Royal Marine Ben McBean – who Harry hailed as a ‘hero’ after he lost an arm and a leg in a bomb blast during the war and yesterday urged the Duke to ‘shut up’ – said that his revelations could have significant security repercussions
Prince Harry meeting former Royal Marine Commando Ben McBean
Picture dated 03/11/2012 of Prince Harry (right) in Camp Bastion
Harry claims he hallucinated that a bin was talking to him during a bad mushroom trip in his memoir
Colonel Kemp told the BBC: ‘I think he’s wrong when he says in his book that insurgents were seen just as being virtually unhuman – subhuman perhaps – just as chess pieces to be knocked over.
‘That’s not the case at all. That’s not the way the British Army trains people as he claims…
‘So I think he’s giving a wrong impression when he makes those sort of comments – that’s not the way the British Army sees things.’
Lord Darroch said that he would have cautioned the Duke against going into ‘the kind of detail’ included in his memoir.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: ‘You have to respect all those who fought in Afghanistan – I went there a number of times when I was national security adviser. It’s a really tough environment, it was a really dangerous war; we lost more than 500 British servicemen so we respect and appreciate all those who fought there.
‘Personally if I’d been advising the prince I would have advised against the kind of detail that he goes into there but it’s out there now. I believe it was a just war and therefore what he has written about how he justified to himself what he was doing, I understand and appreciate that but in terms of the detail, I personally wouldn’t have gone there but it’s done now.’
Tory MP Adam Holloway, who fought in Iraq for the British Army, said that many soldiers did not think it was appropriate to publicise their kill count.
Taliban taunts ‘big mouth loser’ Prince Harry after he revealed he killed 25 enemies in Afghanistan
Writing in The Spectator magazine, he said: ‘It’s not about macho codes. It’s about decency and respect for the lives you have taken.’
Harry went to Afghanistan twice with the Army under strict secrecy, with generals fearing after his first arrival there in 2007 as a forward air controller that he would become a prize sought by the Taliban if his presence was known.
Eventually he had to be returned home after word got out, but he returned to Afghanistan in 2012 to Camp Bastion in Helmand province with the Army Air Corps, trained to fly Apache helicopters.
The duke’s active military service has long been known to have made him a terror target. The risk is sure to increase now he has declared his personal ‘kill count’ in Afghanistan.
Harry flew his Apache on numerous missions, and could count his ‘kills’ thanks to the video camera mounted on the aircraft’s nose. He would watch the videos of his combat after returning to base.
He writes that he saw his Taliban targets as ‘baddies eliminated before they could kill goodies’, The Daily Telegraph reports.
‘And it seemed to me essential not to be afraid of that number,’ he says. ‘So my number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me.’
Picture dated 12/12/2012 of Harry making his early morning pre-flight checks at Camp Bastion
Meghan was ‘offended’ when she was ‘reprimanded’ for telling Kate that she ‘must have baby brain’
Colonel Bob Stewart – a Tory MP who commanded British troops in Bosnia – slammed the comments as ‘distasteful’.
The MP for Beckhenham told MailOnline: ‘I wonder why he is doing such things. Real soldiers tend to shy away… People I know don’t boast about such things. They rather regret that they have had to do it.’
Colonel Stewart, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order after seven tours of Northern Ireland and leading UN forces in Bosnia, went on: ‘It is also rather sad that a man who has had all these advantages in life seems so intent on destroying himself and the monarchy.
‘I feel really sad for the King. Because the King is a good man. I have met him a few times, he was my colonel of the regiment. He is a very sensitive decent man and this will be really hurting him a great deal, all this furore.
‘I just think it is so sad because so many people have not had Prince Harry’s chances in life, and the whole thing seems to be a bit tragic.’
Another Tory MP, who did not want to be named, said Harry’s behaviour was ‘bonkers’, adding: ‘He is bringing everything into disrepute.’
Harry said memories of watching the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on television from his room at school in Eton, then later meeting relatives of victims in America meant he saw the Taliban, which provided a base for the terrorists, as ‘enemies of humanity’.
The Duke adds in the book that his only regrets of his time in Helmand province were attacks he had not made. He recalls how his Gurkha ‘brothers’ came under assault from the Taliban, but ‘contact difficulties’ prevented him pitching in.
Another time, his superiors would not authorise him to fire on 30 Taliban who were blowing up a lorry, he said.
Harry has said the fact that he has been denied armed police security in Britain since stepping back from the Royal Family has been a major factor in his move to America.
He also speaks in his memoir about developing trench foot during Army training in Wales – but marching on regardless.
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