Military wants Harry drama dropped

2010-10-18 19:04

London – The head of Britain's armed forces has written to a television channel asking it not to show a drama-documentary depicting Prince Harry being captured while serving in Afghanistan, sources said on Monday.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup wrote to Channel Four's chairperson Lord Terry Burns in recent days amid growing anger over The Taking Of Prince Harry, which is due to be screened on Thursday.

Harry, 26, who is third in line to the throne, served with the British army in Afghanistan for 10 weeks but was withdrawn in 2008 after media reported the deployment, triggering security fears.

The 90-minute programme includes fictionalised scenes of an actor playing Harry being held by insurgents and an unloaded gun being pointed in his face before a captor pulls the trigger.

Defence sources told AFP that officials were "very cross about it".

"If Channel Four goes ahead, as looks likely, they will fail in their duty to respect the sacrifices that our armed forces and their families make on behalf of the whole country," sources added.

Serious journalistic exercise

"They will no doubt say this is a serious journalistic exercise but no responsible broadcaster would treat such a serious subject as the morale of our brave service personnel with such casual disregard."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence confirmed that Stirrup had written to Burns but said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on the letter's contents.

Harry, known as Lieutenant Wales in the military, is training to become a helicopter pilot with the Army Air Corps, flying an Apache attack chopper.

This is not the first time television programmes on Channel Four, which was not immediately contactable for comment, have attracted controversy.

It screened reality television show Big Brother, which sparked an international row over the racist bullying of Bollywood film star Shilpa Shetty in its 2007 celebrity edition, but which has since been axed.