PRINCE Harry has been accused of being “arrogant and insensitive” after he talked of killing Taleban insurgents during his latest tour of Afghanistan.
The prince, 28, said in a series of media interviews that he took fighters “out of the game” during his 20-week posting.
Harry left the embattled country on board a regular personnel aircraft on Monday night, and joined other UK-bound troops for post-deployment “decompression” at an undisclosed location.
As a gunner in Apache attack helicopters, Harry flew on scores of missions with his fingers on the triggers of deadly rockets, missiles and a 30mm cannon.
Asked if he had killed from the cockpit, he said: “Yeah, so lots of people have. The squadron’s been out here. Everyone’s fired a certain amount.”
Lindsey German, convener of the Stop the War Coalition, said yesterday the comments were “crass” and asked how the prince knew those he killed were members of the Taleban.
“In recent months, many civilians have been killed by air strikes. This arrogant and insensitive attitude to killing Afghans, whoever they are, is hardly likely to win hearts and minds – a supposed aim of the war.
“Prince Harry returns to a life of idleness and luxury, unlike most soldiers, who face unemployment, austerity and social problems,” Ms German said.
CND general secretary Kate Hudson said: “Poring over the exploits of a royal in combat is a sad diversion from the deep, critical appraisal which should be taking place about the UK’s devastating wars.”
Former officer Charles Heyman, who edits a yearbook on British forces, said the prince’s words may raise the already high threat level against Harry.
“The Royal Family are all targets, and he now probably becomes the prime target, Royal Family-wise,” Mr Heyman said. “But he can live with that. He’s a soldier. By and large the world’s elite make sure their sons and daughters go nowhere near the firing line. So it brings credit to the Royal Family, and it’s good for army morale.”
Colonel Richard Kemp, a former British commander in Afghanistan, said the angry response to Harry’s words reflected a certain naivety about the realities of war.
“He’s flying an attack helicopter armed with missiles and machine guns, and its purpose is predominantly to come in and provide fire support for troops fighting the Taleban, so it would be very, very surprising if he didn’t swoop in and kill.”
Defence Minister Mark Francois said yesterday Prince Harry has done well for his country during his time in Afghanistan.
He told MPs: “I am sure the whole House will join me in paying tribute to [Prince Harry’s] service in theatre in Afghanistan.
“Captain Wales, as I understand he prefers to be called in the army, has done well for his country and his service and we commend him.”
Mr Francois’s comments came after North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said he was “delighted” at the prince’s safe return.