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Prince Harry Heads Off to War

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Prince Harry Heads Off to War


Prince Harry Heads Off to War

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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This week as Queen Elizabeth II visits her former colony, a controversy of sorts continues to whirl back in Britain over her grandson. Prince Harry is set to deploy for duty in Iraq with other members of the Household Cavalry Regiment. The British public applauds his flock, but some worry whether the prince himself will be such a target for kidnappers that other members of his regiment will be unreasonably endangered. We have another question, what will his nameplate read?

Dickie Arbiter, former spokesman for Buckingham Palace, is in the U.S. covering the queen's visit for CBS. And he joins us on the phone. Mr. Aribiter, thanks for being with us.

Mr. DICKIE ARBITER (Former Spokesman, Buckingham Palace): You're welcome.

SIMON: Now when we've seen television pictures of Prince Harry in his combat gear, he's got a little label, the label on his helmet says Wales - W-A-L-E-S. Why that?

Mr. ARBITER: Well that is his surname. His father is the Prince of Wales. William is William Wales, and Harry is Harry Wales. And it's very simple. He is Harry or, given his formal title, he is Prince Henry Wales of Wales.

SIMON: Now, tell us about this title - we understand he bears in the Royal Army - Cornet Wales.

Mr. ARBITER: Well, Cornet is rather quaint and unique in certain regiments. They have certain titles. Now, in the Household Cavalry, which is a horse regiment of old, and they still use horses for doing guard duty in London and riding escort during major ceremonial parades. They have the quaint title that a second left-tenant(ph), or as you say in this country, as second lieutenant, is a Cornet. For example, another quaint rank, a sergeant in the Household Cavalry is not a sergeant but he is a corporal of the horse.

SIMON: We read a story this week that, apparently, members of the Household Cavalry Regiment - his people, his friends, his colleagues, his fellow soldiers that he's trained with for so long - have gotten shirts printed up that declare, I'm Harry.

Mr. ARBITER: Yeah. It's the camaraderie that exists within the armed forces. They work together as a team. And there was a story a couple of weeks ago. They all wore ginger wigs. So they're all these look-alikes.

SIMON: I remember reading, years ago, a biography of Lord Louis Mountbatten. And Lord Louis Mountbatten said that one of the reasons that he loved and he dearly loved the army is that because he thought it was perhaps the only place in British life where he felt he could be treated as an equal, where people weren't going to defer to him because he was a member of the royal family.

Mr. ARBITER: It is. And he was absolutely right. Harry is treated as an equal within his regiment. He is given orders by his commanding officer and he passes those orders down to his men.

You know, it's a bit like Harry's uncle, the Duke of York, when he went off to fight in the Falklands War in 1982. Now, he went as a helicopter pilot. There weren't no special arrangements made for him. He was actually flying decoy to lure Argentine missiles away from the ships, and he served out there and he came back and he continued serving with the navy.

And if I - made one extra point, Harry's great-grandfather, the late King George VI, the queen's father, he fought aboard a battleship, aboard HMS Collingwood during the First World War as a midshipman at the Battle of Jutland, which is a ferocious battle. So there is a history of members of the royal family going to war.

SIMON: Mr. Arbiter, thanks very much.

Mr. ARBITER: You're welcome.

SIMON: Dickie Arbiter, former spokesman for Buckingham Palace.

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