LONDON: The UK’s late Queen Elizabeth II requested that her grandsons, Prince William and Prince Harry, fight in Afghanistan during the Western-led intervention.
She allegedly told Gen. Mike Jackson, who served as chief of the general staff from 2003-2006, that “my grandsons have taken my shilling, therefore they must do their duty.”
Jackson broke royal protocol in revealing the comment as part of a new documentary “The Real Crown,” set to air in Britain later this month.
He said: “What goes on in those audiences and who says what to whom remains for the two people involved, and I will break the rule about not divulging what goes on, on this one occasion.”
Harry ended up serving in Afghanistan as a helicopter pilot, drawing widespread media attention.
Earlier this year, he revealed that he had killed 25 Taliban fighters in combat, facing criticism after describing enemy combatants as “chess pieces” in his memoir “Spare.”
But the late queen’s wishes were not fully realized, with William being deemed too high-risk to take part in combat.
Jackson said: “It was decided that (for) William as heir to the heir, the risk is too great. But for his younger brother, the risk was acceptable.”
The program is set to reveal William’s past willingness to take part in the conflict. Mark Cann, director of the British Forces Foundation, said: “William was very keen to go. Unequivocally. But it was complex, and some very great minds and experienced people took a view on it.
“I think it was really tricky. Anybody who’s in the military who hasn’t actually been on operation feels a sense of disappointment.
“And I think especially that was the one (war) at the time, you’ve got everyone around you at the time who’s been involved in it. So, there is a sense of disappointment.”
The program will also reveal Elizabeth’s impressive knowledge of the Afghanistan conflict and attention to detail.
John Scarlett, former chief of MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence service, told the program: “I remember thinking at the time, ‘wow, her majesty knows more about this than we do’.”
He added: “Of course she has complete clearance to everything. She has complete access to an exceptional amount of info and insight for longer than anyone else. She’s very, very discreet, completely reliable and completely on top of the detail.”
Harry completed two full tours — in 2007 and 2012 — of Afghanistan during his 10-year career in the British Army.
After graduating from university in 2005, he took part in a 44-week training course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he was commissioned as an officer.