UK defense boss calls for Harry drama to be dropped

Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:01pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The head of Britain's armed forces has written to broadcaster Channel 4 to urge it not to show a "dramatized documentary" examining what might happen if Prince Harry were kidnapped on military duty in Afghanistan.

The 90-minute program called "The Taking of Prince Harry" is due to be aired Thursday, and recreates a helicopter crash in the south of Afghanistan and the subsequent capture of Queen Elizabeth's grandson, who is third in line to the throne.

Harry served with British forces in Afghanistan in 2008, becoming the first member of the royal family to see action since his uncle Prince Andrew flew helicopters in the Falklands War in 1982.

"We can confirm that (Air Chief Marshal) Jock (Stirrup) sent a letter to the chairman of Channel 4," a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said. "It was a private letter and it would be inappropriate to comment on its contents."

The letter was partly motivated by what Stirrup viewed as a lack of respect by program makers for troops serving in Afghanistan and their families back home, a defense source said.

Reports have said that the film includes a scene in which the actor playing Harry is made to appear in Taliban and al Qaeda propaganda. It also features contributions from intelligence analysts and people who have been taken hostage.

Channel 4 came under fire when it announced the film earlier this month, with The Sun newspaper's in-house security expert Andy McNab saying it was "in bad taste."

Harry, 26, has spoken of his desire to return to Afghanistan, which he was forced to leave prematurely after news of his presence there was leaked.

Channel 4 said earlier this month that it contacted the royal family about the film, but had received no response.   Continued...

<p>A scene from "The Taking of Prince Harry". REUTERS/Channel 4/Handout</p>