Prince Harry Prefers Afghan War to Tabloid Sniping; Vegas Coverage Not ‘Acceptable’
(LONDON) -- Prince Harry has completed a four-month tour of duty in Afghanistan and says he prefers the rigors of the war zone, even enduring a deadly Taliban attack on his birthday, to being home and getting sniped at by the tabloid press.
During his tour of duty, "Captain Wales," as he is referred to in the British Army, gave the British press several candid interviews covering everything from hunting down the enemy to his delight at finding out that his brother, William, and sister-in-law, Kate, are expecting and that he would become an uncle.
Harry said he relished his time in the army because he was able to get away from the prying eyes of the media, and in one interview he didn't hide his hatred for the press.
"My father always says, 'Don't read it.' Everyone says, 'Don't read it, because it's always rubbish.' … Of course I read them. If there's a story and something's been written about me I want to know what's being said, but all it does is just upset me and anger me that people can get away with writing the stuff.… I think it's fairly obvious how far back it goes. [laughs] To when I was very small," Harry said.
Case in point, his recent racy romp in Las Vegas that was caught on tape and made international headlines.
But the prince says he does feel some remorse. ''It was probably a classic example of me being too much army and not enough prince. People may look at it and go, it was letting off steam. Well, the paper knew I was going out to Afghanistan, so the way I was treated by them I don't think was acceptable,'' Prince Harry said.
The prince celebrated another milestone while on his tour of duty: his birthday. He described how he spent his 28th birthday when the Taliban mounted a spectacular attack on his base at Camp Bastion in southeast Afghanistan less than a week after arriving in the country.
Fifteen Taliban fighters dressed in U.S. Army uniforms attacked the base, killing two U.S. Marines and wounding nine others, including one civilian contractor. NATO officials said at the time that Prince Harry was several miles away, and was never in danger during the attack.
Prince Harry said, ''Obviously the papers back home were 'Ooh, this is all against me.' No one really knows yet, but I think it was more towards the book and the Americans, but either way this camp is in the middle of Afghanistan and we should expect to be attacked at any point. The guys dealt with it really well and it was on my birthday so it was a bit of a reality check.''
Despite the threats from the Taliban who said that the militant group would use "all our strength" to kidnap or kill the prince, Harry reiterated his passion for serving his country, saying, ''I find it very easy to completely forget about who I am when I'm in the army. Everyone's wearing the same uniform and doing the same thing. All the officers get called 'sir' and it is great fun. I get on great with the lads and I enjoy my job. It really is as simple as that.''
The prince qualified as an Apache helicopter pilot in February of last year after completing a rigorous 18-month training program in the United Kingdom and United States that left him and his fellow trainees "up to the challenge of operating one of the most sophisticated attack helicopters in the world."
Describing his role as an Apache co-pilot, the prince said, ''I am in charge of the weapons systems...(it's) a joy for me because I am one of these people who like playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I would like to think that I am quite useful. You can ask guys. I thrash them at FIFA the whole time.''
Sometimes flying an exhausting seven to ten hours a day, Harry explained that ''if there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game I suppose. It's not the reason I decided to do this job. The reason to do this job was to get back out here, and carry on with a job.''
Harry, who finds it more comfortable being in the Army than a member of the British royal family, says he doesn't miss much when he's with his army buddies. ''I don't really miss anything. I miss family and friends like everybody does.''
Harry said he is delighted for his brother William and sister-in-law Kate, whom he spoke with on the phone, adding, "It's about time. I can't wait to be an uncle. I think it's very unfair that they were forced to publicize it when they were, but that's just the media for you."
The royal couple were forced to break the news to the world earlier than anticipated because the Duchess of Cambridge was hospitalized after suffering from severe morning sickness, or hyperemisis gravidarum.
And he appreciates his role as a patron of charities, he told the press, "I've got the Walking With The Wounded South Pole venture coming up. Medically, if I can do that, that's perfect because I'd love to do it.''
As for future roles, Prince Harry said, "I've got to be careful with any more patronages, because the last thing my brother, myself and also Catherine -- the last thing we want to do us spread ourselves too thin across the ground.''
Harry, like any other serving member of the army, will be taking some well-deserved time off before returning to his army base in Wattisham, Suffolk, Southeast England.
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