Prince Harry has received a flurry of attention lately. When he isn’t cavorting in the nude in Las Vegas, he fights in Afghanistan as a member of the British Army. In fact, he was redeployed to Afghanistan shortly after his recent romp, which may explain the incentives facing the prince when he chose to test the adage that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Both his social habits and his career depend on taxpayer dollars for support, but at least his job arguably provides some benefit to the British people in return.
By all accounts, Prince Harry’s first deployment to Afghanistan was constructive. He served admirably on the front lines in 2007 before reports in the international press necessitated his removal from combat. He has since retrained as an Apache pilot and is now stationed at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. Recent press reports on Taliban threats against the prince have raised questions about the wisdom of stationing the third in line to the throne in a combat zone.
First of all, if something were to happen to Prince Harry and he could not assume the throne in the event that both Princes Charles and William were to expire, the throne would belong to the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, who isn’t as young or tabloid friendly as Prince Harry.
Second, some argue that the placement of such a high value target in a war zone creates additional hazards for the troops surrounding the prince. I have trouble fathoming this logic, however, since the Taliban presumably wants to kill every NATO troop it can, regardless of the prince’s presence. It would be an obvious public relations coup for the Taliban to succeed in kidnapping and/or killing Prince Harry, for it would indicate the Taliban’s relative strength to the world in stark contrast to public claims by American forces and their allies. On the other hand, keeping the prince deployed and safe would suggest the opposite narrative to the viewing public, so one can understand the benefit to the British military of keeping the prince in combat.
There is more to consider here than public relations alone. Prince Harry has expressed the sentiment that it is only fair that he should be fighting with his fellow troops, and that the burden of war shouldn’t fall solely on commoners. His duty is to provide value to the taxpayer and to his comrades in arms.
Whether or not this value exists, however, is open to debate. His superior at Camp Bastion insists Harry is a “damn good” Apache pilot. He better be, because his cost of deployment includes a full-time group of armed bodyguards for the prince that surrounds him even while on base, so he costs more taxpayer resources than normal troops and is possibly impeding the war effort by distraction and waste. Moreover, the armed guards are reportedly for protection against rogue forces of the Afghan government (you know, our ally). This tidbit suggests that Prince Harry should not be deployed to Afghanistan. No one, aristocratic status notwithstanding, should still be fighting this failed war.