Sunday, February 25, 2007


Exclusive: Prince buys his own kit

By Ryan Sabey

PRINCE Harry has had to spend more than £1,000 on extra kit for duty in Iraq in a damning indictment of the funding of British forces.

The 22-year-old royal — third in line to the throne — bought at least TEN items considered vital for his tour in war-torn Maysan province in May.

But scores of junior-ranking troops in Harry's Blues and Royals regiment have complained they simply cannot afford the equipment.

Many earn less than £16,000-a-year.

Poor or missing kit has blighted the Iraq campaign despite repeated government promises of help.

In March 2003 Sgt Steve Roberts, 33, was shot dead at an Iraqi checkpoint after being ordered to give his body armour to a colleague judged to be at greater risk days earlier.

Six Red Caps were killed by a mob when they were sent 12 miles from base with communications equipment that could only reach nine miles.

Harry's self-bought kit includes a lightweight Para helmet costing £225, far more comfortable than normal Army-issue, and £70 for some specialist goggles.

The prince has also spent more than £300 on three pairs of boots — troops say standard issue footwear simply isn't good enough. He paid £110 for a pair of Lowas, £125 on waterproof jungle boots and £70 on Magnum desert boots.

The prince has also spent £140 on a Global Positioning System so he can pinpoint exactly where he is on the Iraq-Iran border.

Along with many others in his troop he has forked out £80 on a quality sleeping bag.

Harry also bought £30 Helly Hansen long-johns for the cold nights.


Less expensive items include extra webbing to hold equipment like drinks bottles and a Gerber knife, both cost £20.

Harry will be in charge of 11 men patrolling an area populated by Iranian-backed Shia Muslim extremists loyal to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The unit will carry out long-range desert patrols.

A source said: "The squaddies have been saying for a long time that they don't get any help paying for equipment. It's a case of having the right kit for the job.

"There's no resentment towards Harry. It just shows how standard Army equipment isn't up to scratch."

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