Britain's Prince Harry to join prestigious regiment

Prince Harry, 21-year-old grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, is to join the Blues and Royals regiment of the venerable Household Cavalry, and could serve in Iraq, the Ministry of Defense said Wednesday. "It's fair to say that if his squadron goes to Iraq, he will probably go with it," said a ministry spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy.

The Household Cavalry, the army's oldest and most senior unit, have already served in Iraq, where several Blues and Royals troopers were killed. News reports said Harry is hoping eventually to lead an armored reconnaissance troop, which deploys in Scimitar vehicles and acts as the eyes and ears of the force commander.

There are two divisions within the Household Cavalry, the armored division, where Harry will train, and the mounted regiment, which performs ceremonial duties, including guarding the queen on ceremonial and public occasions. Clarence House, the office of Harry's father, Prince Charles, said the young prince, who is third in line to the throne, will join the Blues and Royals in April after completing his training at Sandhurst military academy in southern England.

Previous members of the Blues and Royals regiment include Andrew Parker Bowles, former husband of Charles' wife Camilla. James Hewitt, a former lover of Harry's mother, the late Princess Diana, was also in the Household Cavalry, but in the Life Guards rather than the Blues and Royals.

After being commissioned as an officer at Sandhurst, the prince will become a second lieutenant in the Household Cavalry. Clarence House said the prince based his choice of the Blues and Royals "on the variety of roles which the regiment undertakes, including reconnaissance support to airborne forces right through to ceremonial duties."

Although Harry is keen to focus on operational work, the Household Cavalry has a proud record in the Falklands, the Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, he may be required to take part in ceremonial duties. However, he will escape sentry duty outside Buckingham Palace because he is an officer.

In an interview to mark his 21st birthday, Harry said he was keen to fight for his country. "There's no way I'm going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country," he said.

In joining the military, Harry is following a royal tradition: Charles was a pilot with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy and Harry's grandfather, Prince Philip, had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy. Harry's uncle, Prince Andrew, was a Royal Navy pilot and served in the Falklands war against Argentina. Prince William, Harry's 23-year-old brother and second in line to the throne, is currently doing military training at Sandhurst, reports the AP. N.U.