Sunday, June 01, 2008
Photo credit: Wireimage
Prince William is heading to the azure waters of the Caribbean as part of a two-month deployment in the Royal Navy despite his request to be as close as possible to conflict. The assignment beginning Monday will see the second in line to the throne spending much of his time trolling the West Indies aboard the HMS Iron Duke, a frigate on hurricane relief duty and counter-narcotics patrol. Rear Admiral Robert Cooling, assistant chief of Naval Staff, said William "commendably wanted to be as close to the front line as possible." But officers decided he could learn more in a short time by serving on the Iron Duke than by being sent to the Persian Gulf, where the Royal Navy is engaged in a number of operations. There was also concern that placing William, 25, in the Persian Gulf might draw unwanted attention from Britain's enemies. "We clearly wouldn't have put the prince in the way of a particular threat, and we wouldn't want his presence in a warship in a particular region to have drawn attention from those who might not wish him well," Cooling said. Senior officers stressed in a pre-deployment briefing that William will not receive special treatment during his Navy assignment, which will include shoreside training followed by a five-weeks at sea. "The rules that will apply to Prince William will be exactly the same as the rules applied to any junior officer," Cooling said. However, he said, the prince probably would not take part in boarding parties if the men are likely to come under fire while attempting to intercept drug shipments. William is an officer in the Army, but he has been spending time in other branches of the service to round out his military experience. He made headlines during his stint with the Royal Air Force, landing a Chinook helicopter on his girlfriend Kate Middleton's lawn and using the military chopper for other questionable trips, including picking up Harry and flying to a stag party on the Isle of Wight. On the Iron Duke, William is scheduled to spend time in every department, including weapons engineering, logistics, operations, and the ship's helicopter flights. There will be no special accommodations for the prince, who is expected to bunk with other junior officers, and there will not be special security while he is at sea, Cooling said. Commander Simon Huntington said the prince would in essence receive an abbreviated version of the normal two-year training most young officers receive. "These warships are not like cruise liners," said Cooling. "It's going to be a lumpy ride. He doesn't know if he's susceptible to seasickness, but if he is, there are pills that can help. It's nothing to be shy about. It happens to the best of us. Nelson got seasick." Seasick or not, no one is suggesting that the future king will have to do kitchen duty. Someone else will have to wash the dishes and peel the potatoes.
While I find it very commendable that Prince Wills is making every effort to serve in as many branches of the British military as he possibly can, I do have a hard time believing that he is taking the work seriously. Even Harry's stint in Afghanistan seemed to me like a very expensive frat boy-like camping trip ... but with real weapons and military machinery to play with. Even still, devoting this much time to the military must be difficult in some respects, especially for someone of Royal upbringing. While it kinda feels like Wills is just playing dress-up, I have to give him props for making the effort nonetheless. Have fun with all those sea men, Wills :) [Source]