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Harry sacrificed, William preserved: Elizabeth II’s shock decision

More than seven months after the death of Elizabeth II, ITV is to broadcast a documentary series on the backstage of Buckingham in recent years, entitled The Real Crown. In the film, a former British army official reveals a supposedly secret conversation with the late Queen about her two grandsons.

We are less than a month away from the coronation of Charles III, seven months after the death of Elizabeth II, and a new documentary series on the British monarchy is about to be released. The show, The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor, will be available in its entirety on the ITVX platform from 20 April. One of the five episodes will look at how the decision was made to send Prince Harry to fight in Afghanistan back in 2007, rather than his eldest son, Prince William.

According to the testimony of General Sir Mike Jackson, former head of the British Army, Elizabeth II was keen for an heir to the crown to fight in the Middle East from the start of the conflict in 2001. However, it seemed too risky to send the future king of England, William, to the front. During a meeting, the content of which is disclosed here by Sir Mike Jackson, the sovereign is said to have chosen to “sacrifice” the youngest of her sons to preserve the future of the Crown.

For Harry, “the risk was acceptable”

“She was very clear. She said, ‘My grandsons have taken my shilling, so they must do their duty’,” reveals the man who is breaking royal protocol by revealing the details of this hearing. “But it was decided that William, as heir, was too great a risk. But for his younger brother, the risk was acceptable.” The documentary series insists that the Queen thought long and hard about the decision, as she had detailed information about the risks faced by British armed personnel in Afghanistan.

“[The Queen] has full authority for everything. She has had access to an exceptional amount of information and knowledge for longer than anyone else. William was very keen to go,” Sir John Scarlett, head of MI6 at the time, tells The Real Crown. This former senior official of the English state also tells us that the monarch was very involved in the development of the operations and had informed herself enormously on the subject before announcing to Harry his departure for Afghanistan. “I remember thinking at the time, ‘Her Majesty knows more about this than we do’,” recalls Sir John Scarlett.

Lady Diana’s second son served in the British Army for a decade, in 2007-08 and again in 2012-13 as a private, eventually reaching the rank of captain. In his memoirs, Prince Harry has always referred to this period of his life as one of the most rewarding, having helped him “turn his pain into purpose”. In his memoirs published on 10 January, the man known to his comrades as “Captain Wales” revealed the number of Taliban he had killed during his tour of duty, explaining that in order to bear the burden, he had come to see those killed not as “human beings” but rather as “chess pieces”.

Photo credits: Agency / Bestimage

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