Prince Harry has admitted in a stunning passage of his personal memoir “Spare” that he killed 25 people in Afghanistan – specifically Taliban fighters – while serving there with British forces as a military helicopter pilot.
The book’s global launch is expected for Jan.10, but has first become available this week in Spain days ahead of the official international release date. In the book, he described Taliban militants that he fired on and killed as “chess pieces removed from the board.”
The British royal, now 38, had done two stints in Afghanistan as a forward air controller in 2007 and 2008 and then later in 2012. Some of that time he had been a co-pilot gunner in Apache attack helicopters. Given he operated in Helmand province, among the most dangerous hotspots throughout the two-decade long conflict, many military commentators see 25 total kills as definitely plausible.
In the book, he wrote: “It wasn’t a statistic that filled me with pride but nor did it leave me ashamed.” Then he admitted the number of kills: “When I found myself plunged in the heat and confusion of combat I didn’t think of those 25 as people.”
“They were chess pieces removed from the board, Bad people eliminated before they could kill Good people,” Prince Harry added.
The revelation was met with mixed reactions among Western pundits, with many recognizing the oddity or poor taste of it, given the vast majority of war veterans are typically reluctant to talk in detail about how many people they’ve killed or wounded on the battlefield. For example Reuters quoted the following reader as saying:
“My father was in the Second World War and I once asked him as a child if he’d killed anyone and he was very reluctant to say anything about it.”
The admissions by the Duke of Sussex have also come under criticism from former UK military commanders, as BBC highlights:
Ex-army officer colonel Richard Kemp told the BBC Harry’s comments were “ill-judged”.
He added the remarks may have undermined his security and could provoke people to take revenge.
Some even suggested innocent bystanders may have been among the Afghans killed while Prince Harry was an Apache pilot.
And to be expected, the book has elicited outrage out of Kabul, with Taliban officials condemning the UK and US for the “odious” occupation.
The Taliban-led Afghan foreign affairs ministry slammed Harry’s words, with spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi saying, “The western occupation of Afghanistan is truly an odious moment in human history and comments by Prince Harry is a microcosm of the trauma experienced by Afghans at the hands of occupation forces who murdered innocents without any accountability.”