Prince Harry, who was last in the news over his embarrassing play-boyish antics in a Las Vegas hotel, returned to the headlines on Tuesday seeking to cast himself as a royal war hero and boasting how he killed Taliban militants — or took the enemy “out of the game”, as he put it — during his recent deployment in Afghanistan.
But his comment, likening his job to playing “Playstation and Xbox”, provoked criticism.
Colonel Richard Kemp , a former British commander in Afghanistan, said that “killing is not a game”, while the Taliban accused him of having a “mental problem”.
“There are 49 countries with their powerful military failing in the fight against the mujahideen, and now this prince comes and compares this war with his games, PlayStation or whatever he calls it,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP .
Colonel Kemp said: “He is using the language of soldiers and soldiers know better than anyone that killing is not a game,” he said.
Prince Harry made the remarks during a series of orchestrated media interviews before leaving Afghanistan at the end of his 20-week tour of duty as an Apache co-pilot.
Asked whether he himself had killed any militant, he said: “Yeah, so, lots of people have. ... Yes, we fire when we have to, take a life to save a life, but essentially we’re more of a deterrent than anything else…If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game.” The Prince, known as Captain Wales in the army, said being in charge of the weapons systems and firing missiles was “a joy…because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think that I’m probably quite useful”.
This was his second outing in Afghanistan. His first deployment in 2007-2008, conducted amid a media blackout, was cut short after the news leaked out prompting fears of risk to his life.
The 28-year-old prince, third in line to the throne, was described by the Taliban as “a drunken jackal” out to kill innocent Afghans.