Britain's Prince Harry will be sent to Iraq as late as possible to give his comrades vital time to assess the dangers posed by militia groups in the strife-torn country, army sources said here today.
The move gives troops in the Royal's unit, the Household Cavalry's A Squadron, the chance to be in position and let them gain combat experience before his arrival, The Sun tabloid quoted sources as saying.
Defence chiefs also want to keep Harry's presence there as secret as possible from the Islamic extremists who want to kill him. They hope the fewer people who are aware of his movements, the safer the young cavalry officer and his men will be.
"If the men are all familiar with their new surroundings before Harry arrives, they will be far sharper to the dangers of the inevitable first attack," the sources said.
"Whether he likes it or not, the timing of his arrival means he is being treated as a special case. Everyone in the regiment is sick of hearing about Harry's deployment and the risks to himself and what that means for us.
"None more so than Harry himself who is desperate to just get out there and get on with the job he has been trained for. Getting him out late is no bad thing for the rest of the lads," the source added.
Harry's unit begins its six month tour of duty this week with most of his colleagues flying out over the next seven days.
The Royal's 1 Mechanised Brigade replaces 19 Light Brigade as the main fighting troops in southern Iraq, which has witnessed massive increase in violence in recent months as insurgents battle to oust British forces early.