Prince Harry has claimed that some soldiers were not “necessarily” in support of Britain’s war in Afghanistan in a new interview. The Duke of Sussex’s comments come after he described killing enemy targets during the conflict as “chess pieces removed from the board.”
The remarks came during a livestreamed chat with psychologist Dr Gabor Maté.
When Dr Maté said he did not align himself with the West during the war, Harry appeared to look to deflect criticism of his involvement in the war as simply following orders.
He said: “One of the reasons why so many people in the United Kingdom were not supportive of our troops was because they assumed that everybody that was serving was for the war.
“But no, once you sign up, you do what you’re told to do.
“So there was a lot of us that didn’t necessarily agree or disagree, but you were doing what you were trained to do, you were doing what you were sent to do.”
His comments come after the Prince faced criticism for revealing he had killed 25 Taliban soldiers during his time with the army.
Harry wrote that “in the era of Apaches and laptops” it was possible to establish “with exactness how many enemy combatants I had killed. And it seemed to me essential not to be afraid of that number. So my number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me.”
He later added that he dehumanised those he killed, saying: “When I found myself plunged in the heat and confusion of combat I didn’t think of those 25 as people. They were chess pieces removed from the board. Bad people eliminated before they could kill good people.”
Critics accused Harry of bragging and even creating a security risk by damaging the already tenuous relationship between the UK and Afghanistan, creating a security risk for the Prince.
Retired Col Richard Kemp told Sky News extremists who support the Taliban may now be “motivated to kill Harry” because of memories that have been “resurrected” by his comments.
Anas Haqqani, an influential member of the Afghan government, said: “The ones you killed were not chess pieces, they were humans; they had families who were waiting for their return. Among the killers of Afghans, not many have your decency to reveal their conscience and confess to their war crimes.”
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Soldiers described the move as crass, with retired army veteran Col Tim Collins saying: “That’s not how you behave in the army; it’s not how we think. He has badly let the side down. We don’t do notches on the rifle butt. We never did.”
A former paratrooper added to the Guardian: “I’ve never heard anyone talk about kill counts, it’s crass and frankly cringeworthy. Taking a life is the most serious thing you can ever do on ops, serious people don’t talk it up as a game to shift a few books.”
Elsewhere in his interview with Dr Maté, Harry said he always felt different from the rest of his family and that Diana felt the same. Describing his upbringing as a “broken home”, he said he had been “saved” by Meghan.
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