The third in line to the British throne arrived in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, on Thursday night where he will complete his second tour of duty.
The Taliban have dismissed Prince Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan as a propaganda stunt and taunted that it could allow him to atone for the shame of appearing naked in photographs.
A spokesman for the insurgent movement which British forces have been fighting in Helmand for six years claimed his deployment was an attempt to boost the flagging morale of war-weary soldiers.
Prince Harry will soon begin missions against Taliban fighters after arriving in Afghanistan last week for a four month tour of duty as an Apache attack helicopter pilot.
The 27-year-old’s role as co-pilot gunner will see him personally fire on insurgents as he operates the aircraft’s weapons, which include Hellfire missiles and a 30mm chain gun.
On Sunday he completed training in first aid and roadside bomb awareness and will now begin preparation for his first missions with 622 Sqn, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps.
The Prince will also be eligible for the £200 a week operational bonus paid to troops in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence confirmed.
However a Taliban spokesman claimed that the Prince’s arrival was purely symbolic and predicted that he would never leave his base in Camp Bastion.
Prince Harry walks passed the Apache flight-line with a member of his squadron at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan (PA)
Zabiullah Mujahid said: “The British Army is under pressure, just like the other forces in Afghanistan, and Britain wants to encourage its soldiers with such actions.
“And also the Prince was seen in naked pictures in England. To cover this shame, maybe he can atone by showing that he is fighting beside their soldiers in Afghanistan.”
Photographs of the naked Prince engaging in a game of “strip billiards” at a party during a private holiday in Las Vegas were widely published on the internet and in foreign media last month.
Captain Wales, as he is known in the Army, returned to Afghanistan four and a half years after his last tour, as an infantry officer with the Household Cavalry, was cut short because of a media blackout being broken.
A blackout has not been imposed for this tour because commanders believe he will be safer and less likely to draw insurgent threats to fellow soldiers, now he is a pilot.
“The British haven’t been able to do anything here in Afghanistan with all their soldiers. They can’t do anything with their Prince here either,” Mujahid added.
Prince Harry was not there to engage in a way that Mujahid would have preferred.
While he is in Afghanistan, Captain Wales, as he is known to other soldiers, will be operating as a co-pilot gunner on board an Apache helicopter, which he has recently qualified to pilot.
The prince is understood to be completing a two-day course in first aid, shooting, and roadside-bomb awareness before he is expected to start Apache-specific preparation Monday, familiarizing himself with the helicopter’s configurations for Afghanistan.
Speaking of the Prince’s tour, another Apache pilot told the Daily Mail newspaper: ”Each time we serve in Afghanistan, it is for four months – and no holidays in Britain, or Las Vegas, while we’re there.
”We get a lot of stick from the soldiers on the ground because their tours last six months rather than four, but our jobs are more mentally demanding.
”Harry has the backing of everyone in the Army Air Corps. He performed very well in training and was too good in the Apache to be ordered to ‘fly a desk’ – what we call office duties.”
The prince previously served in Afghanistan in late 2007 and early 2008, but his deployment lasted only 10 weeks, being cut short over fears for his safety after it was made public.