‘Take a life to save a life’ – Harry on killing insurgents

Prince Harry has piloted Apache helicopters for the last four months. Credit: PA

Prince Harry is returning from duty as an Apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.

During the course of his service, the Prince gave a series of interviews on the condition that nothing would be published until the end of his tour.

For the past four months he has been a co-pilot gunner in a lethal fighting machine.

His job, on occasion, has required him to kill the enemy.

“Take a life to save a life. That’s what we revolve around, I suppose,” he says.

Royal Correspondent Tim Ewart reports:

The Apache’s role is to protect ground troops using rockets, laser-guided missiles, and a 1200-round chain gun.

“If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys,” Harry explains, “then we’ll take them out of the game.”

In December, Harry, wearing a Santa hat, gave cameras a tour of the area inside Camp Bastion reserved for Apache crews on Very High Readiness (VHR).

He and his colleagues could be scrambled any second.

Stood beside his modest camp bed, a thin white duvet tossed scruffily on top of a sheet-less mattress, Harry explained what was required of him.

“One minute you’re in bed, asleep,” he says. “Six-and-a-half minutes later you’re speaking to somebody on the ground who’s being shot at. You just get used to it, I guess.”

The Army has repeatedly stressed that Captain Wales is just another soldier who shares the same conditions, food and accommodation as his colleagues.

But, as the Prince explained, there are times when he does feel different.

“For me, it’s not that normal, because I go into the cookhouse and everyone has a good old gawk,” he says.

“That’s one thing that I dislike about being here, because there’s plenty of guys that have never met me, therefore probably look at me as being Prince Harry as opposed to Captain Wales.”

And for all the challenges of the Apache, Harry admitted that he missed the front line.

He served there for ten weeks in 2008 before media exposure sent him home.

“For me, that hurt, being pulled out at that point, being dragged away from my guys," he explains.

“It wasn’t done in the wrong way, but it was just--” Harry’s interview is interrupted suddenly as he notices a colleague sprinting across the airbase.

Four more follow as Harry springs up, ripping his clip microphone and sound pack from his body.

Within seconds, the Prince is another of those figures on the horizon, scrambled to attend to whatever is required of him.