The mandarins of the Ministry of Defence must be seriously sweating that things don’t always happen in threes.

Following the debacle surrounding the Iranian capture of 15 British service personnel, it now finds itself in a “will he, won’t he” debate on whether Troop Commander Harry Wales should be deployed to Iraq with his regiment.

The troop commander, otherwise known as the popular tabloid-targeted royal Prince Harry, is regarded as a prime target for militia groups if he takes up his posting with the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry.

It has kick-started an inevitable debate about whether the young prince, seemingly highly regarded by military colleagues, should be exposed to such danger. But the debate has been largely mismanaged by the MoD in much the same way as it failed to spectacularly over the capture of the 15 personnel, particularly the decision to initially allow them to sell their stories to the media.

The MoD has merely added to the debate, rather than provide a definitive statement.

In doing so it has ratcheted up the speculation, but also increased the amount of pressure on Troop Commander Wales.

He is, by all accounts, dedicated to his military career and yet his motives for joining the Army and his qualities as a soldier are being scrutinised in a very public way. No other soldier would come in for such a public dissection.

The MoD needs to make certain it doesn’t destroy the morale of a bright young soldier and those who serve alongside him by basing decisions on a largely media-generated agenda.

It must also take a long hard look at the way it deals with such situations and whether it is doing a massive disservice to those putting their lives on the line day in and day out.

Two media scandals might be viewed by some as unfortunate, but surely just one amounts to a dereliction of duty.


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