Harry the hero, really?

Hannah Ali

Ever since the news of Prince Harry's deployment to war-torn Afghanistan broke, I've been laughing my ass off in complete utter disbelief. Do the people behind it really think we are that stupid?

I'm writing this, at the risk of being perceived as a conspiracy theory cynic because I want to express my opinion on perhaps the biggest story of the year. Not only are the British public being patronised with pictures of  "Harry the hero" in his army gear, giving orders on the phone, on the front line, flirting with danger but we have been subjected to wall to wall footage of the prince himself giving TV interviews while on duty. I find it absurd.

Harry claimed that living among his grandmother the Queen's Household Cavalry regiment and being thousands of miles away from home, he felt a sense of normality; that he was  "just one of the boys". Well I doubt that your average soldier would have an entire BBC TV crew following their every move.

But above all, I personally feel like I'm having my intelligence insulted to the point of an enormous piss-take. Not only is this a total PR stunt contrived by the Royal family and the Army but the entire British press were in on it too. Apparently they kept the story quiet courtesy of a government D-Notice - Defence Ministry 'advice' to the news media about non-publication i.e. official censorship.

The story was finally broken by a notorious American blogger named Matt Drudge and has since spread like wildfire. The coverage on television and the newspapers has been rife and unbelievably OTT. Some of the quotes in the papers have been priceless. Suddenly erstwhile playboy Harry is hailed a hero, a title even he has said he does not accept. Arguably, the heroes are the brave troops he left behind.

This is not an attack on Prince Harry. In fact, I quite like the fella. But there are people more powerful and more intelligent than him pulling the strings here. I do think there is more to this story than meets the eye. We're either being purposely distracted from more important but embarrassing news about Nato's unwinnable war in Afghanistan by this concocted story or perhaps the royal spin doctors are trying to alter the image of the rogue prince, who was previously a figure of fun.

I'm not sure but whatever the reason for this story, I seriously doubt that Harry was in any genuine danger and that he was out there for as long as the the 10 weeks claimed by the Ministry of Defence. It was probably more like 10 hours for the news media photo opportunity.

I mean, why would the third-in-line to the throne be placed in a position where he could lose his life when there's so much at stake? Apparently, the young royal had 24 hour-round-the-clock protection, as mentioned by the Editor of The-Latest in his column on this same page.

So now the ginger-haired prince, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his mother's long-time lover James Hewitt, another Guards army officer, has been withdrawn from the war zone amid security fears and returned to the UK for his own safety. Oh, thank heavens!

I wouldn't fall for the media hype surrounding the story of the dashing hero prince. It is no more than just a modern aged silly season myth.

* Also, 'Prince Harry story was a plant not a scoop', The-Latest, Columnists.