RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
The young man the British media had dubbed the bullet magnet is no longer going to be one. Britain's Prince Harry was deployed on a stealth combat tour to Afghanistan in December. The British media knew, but they kept it a secret and didn't broadcast this interview until yesterday.
PRINCE HARRY: I'm still a little bit conscious about the fact that, you know, if I do go on patrols in amongst the locals, I'll still be very wary about the fact that, you know, I need to keep my face slightly covered, just on the off chance I do get recognized, which will put other guys in danger.
MONTAGNE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: Let's briefly review the chain of events. Yesterday the Drudge Report website broke a news blackout that had been in effect about the prince's whereabouts.
MONTAGNE: I don't know where they got the information from, but certainly we'd been involved in this great secret for a month - several months in fact. But as soon as it appeared on the Drudge Report, sort of front page, as it were, then I think all bets were off and everyone realized the story was out and therefore we had to go ahead and write it ourselves.
MONTAGNE: Now, how did it happen that the British media, which includes the most rowdy, intrusive, scoop-mongering tabloids of them all, managed to keep this a secret for so long? Two and a half months.
MONTAGNE: I think we all felt that it was the only pragmatic solution to this problem. Prince Harry wanted to be deployed somewhere, Iraq or Afghanistan. If it was made public that he was going to go there, then obviously the world's media would be focusing on it and it would put him and the men he was commanding under unacceptable and greater risk than he would have been in any case. So I think we all felt, although as you say, we're all a very highly competitive business here in the U.K., I think it was felt that it was the pragmatic solution, was that if they sent Prince Harry but under a cloak of secrecy, we would all be in on it, we would know, and we would benefit eventually, that when he came back from Afghanistan we would all be able to run our stories because they decided to send a sort of pooled arrangement, the BBC and the press association, into Afghanistan with the prince in order to sort of interview him and find out what he's doing and then we'd all benefit from it.
MONTAGNE: Now that the world knows that Prince Harry has been in southern - or is still possibly still in southern Afghanistan, in a very dangerous province, Helmand Province, is it clear that he had to really go home immediately?
MONTAGNE: I don't think there was really much alternative, to be honest. They said that they could manage his security, provided nobody was writing about his presence in Afghanistan. Well, now that the world knows that he's in Afghanistan, it makes it very difficult to see how they could have managed his security and the security of the men that he is with. So I think, really, there wasn't much alternative but to bring him out.
MONTAGNE: You know, one thing Prince Harry expressed last week, the desire to be a normal soldier to the BBC. This clip is now out. And it says something about him.
(SOUNDBITE OF BCC INTERVIEW)
HARRY: I haven't really had a shower for four days. I haven't washed my clothes for a week. It's very nice to be sort of a normal person for once. I think this about as normal as I'm ever going to get.
MONTAGNE: And that's rather touching.
MONTAGNE: I think it is. I think he showed that he wanted to be treated no differently from anyone else, and that means that, you know, he said in his clip, you know, he hadn't shaved for four days, hadn't washed for four days, whatever. He's been out in the field, out in the front line and doing what everyone else does. So I think he's thoroughly enjoyed it. And it's a great shame that he has to be pulled out.
MONTAGNE: Michael Evans is defense editor for the Times of London. Thank you for speaking with us.
MONTAGNE: Okay, thanks.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.