Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today hammered Prince Harry for ‘boasting’ about shooting dead 25 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
The Tory MP, 52, said the Duke of Sussex had ‘let down’ his former Army comrades by revealing his kill count in his autobiography Spare.
He is the most senior minister to speak out on the issue, which experts claimed put Britons at risk and prompted anger from across the Armed Forces.
Mr Wallace was asked about it by LBC’s Nick Ferrari today, and said: ‘I frankly think boasting about tallies or talking about tallies distorts the fact that the Army is a team game. It’s a team enterprise. It’s not about who can shoot the most.
Mr Wallace told LBC’s Nick Ferrari today that Harry had been wrong to ‘boast’ about Taliban kills
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace with Prince Harry at the Invictus Games in The Hague in April last year
Prince Harry on patrol in Helmand province in 2008. In his autobiography, he said he regarded Taliban fighters as ‘chess pieces’ during operations
‘If you start talking about who did what [you’re] letting down all those other people, because you’re not a better person because you did and they didn’t’.
When asked by Mr Ferrari about whether the royal had broken an ‘unwritten code’ that you don’t talk about kill counts, Mr Wallace said: ‘Well you’d have to ask Prince Harry about his choices.’
He added: ‘For an infanteer to go over the top – they are supported by hundreds of people behind them. Whether they are in headquarters in Britain, in the Royal Logistic Corp who help them get there, it’s a team.
‘It’s not about who can shoot the most or who doesn’t shoot the most. This is my personal view, if you start talking about who did what, what you are actually doing is letting down all those other people.’
Harry revealed that he killed 25 Taliban fighters in his controversial memoir Spare, referring to them as ‘chess pieces’.
Later, during an appearance on US television, he claimed that he had included the figure to reduce suicides in veteran communities.
His admissions – in defiance of the long-running code of not discussing their ‘kill count’ – have particularly upset members of the Armed Forces family with mental health issues.
Spare’s release coincided with Harry’s popularity dropping to an all-time low after the fallout from his memoirs – in both the US and the UK.
The Sussexes were also mercilessly lampooned in a South Park episode last week.
It was even claimed that his wife Meghan Markle had raised ‘gentle concerns’ about Prince Harry’s decision to release Spare.
The Duchess of Sussex, 41, was notably absent from any promotion or interviews for her husband’s explosive memoir.
She allegedly stayed away because she would have been accused of ‘trying to steal the limelight’ – but also ‘media-savvy’ Meghan may have raised gentle concerns about whether the book was the right move, one insider told the Telegraph.
The source said: ‘Is this the way she would have approached things? Possibly not. But she will always back him and would never have got involved in promoting such a personal project. This was about his own life, his journey and his own perspective.’
Mr Wallace is the most senior minister to speak out about Harry’s account of his time in the Army
Harry appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and said he included his ‘kill count’ to reduce suicides in veteran communities
On his January TV interview blitz, Harry was unchallenged by Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, when he insisted ‘my words are not dangerous’ – even though serious concerns were raised about the safety of the Royal Family and of British citizens overseas when the Taliban revelation emerged.
He was also widely accused of emboldening the Afghan regime, who have returned the country to a brutal dictatorship since 2021 when Western troops left the country.
Leaders of the militant regime mocked Harry and called for his ‘war crimes’ to be investigated by an international tribunal.
The Duke of Sussex told Colbert his words had been twisted.
However Derek Hunt, whose son Nathan served with in Afghanistan and later took his own life, was among those to condemn Harry’s book.
Mr Hunt, who campaigns on behalf of soldiers suffering with mental health issues, told the Mail: ‘However he tries to justify his comments, what he said cannot be unsaid. This is too painful for too many people to be discussed so loosely in public.
‘Veterans were not crying out for this debate, they have spent years trying to forget about the realities of combat, such as taking people’s lives.
‘If the disclosure was part of his therapy, then it should have stayed between him and his therapist. I think he has brought back a lot of memories for those men and women who served and are trying to forget. If all this was for their benefit then Harry has made a mistake.’
Harry’s attempt to persuade the US television audience that he was attempting to help veterans was met with cheers in the New York studio, which had invited a number of veterans.
He told Colbert: ‘The reason as to why I decided to share this in my book… I made a choice to share it because, having spent nearly two decades working with veterans all around the world, I think the most important thing is to be honest and to give space to others to share their experiences without any shame.
‘And my whole goal, my attempt with sharing that detail is to reduce the number of suicides.’
More than 2,000 British soldiers and veterans are believed to have killed themselves since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Suicide rates in military communities have also risen in recent years. The risk of suicide among Armed Forces veterans aged under 25 is four times higher than for civilians, according to recent research.
Harry also told Colbert the media had wrongly accused him of ‘boasting’ about his kills. In doing so the media has endangered his family, according to the prince.
He said: ‘The most dangerous lie they [the media] have told is that I somehow boasted about the number of people I killed in Afghanistan. My words are not dangerous, but the spin of my words is very dangerous to my family.
‘I would say, if I heard anyone else boasting about that kind of thing I would be angry. [The media] had the context. It wasn’t just that they had one line, they had the whole section. They ripped it away and said, “here he is boasting on this”. And that is the choice they have made.’
In fact, this interpretation of the prince’s remarks was introduced by numerous commentators, including Conservative MP Bob Stewart, who said: ‘I wonder why he is doing such things. Real soldiers tend to shy away. People I know don’t boast about such things. They rather regret they had to do it.’
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