Prince Harry’s “backpedalling” over his claim to have killed 25 Taliban fighters indicates that he has “lost the plot”, a former British Army officer has said. Stuart Crawford also suggested the Duke of Sussex’s PR handlers and security people were each likely to have been “aghast” at the controversy surrounding some lines from his new memoir, Spare – and had probably “had a word” with him.
Mr Crawford, who served in the Royal Tank Regiment for two decades, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander, was speaking after the Prince lashed out at the UK media while speaking to Stephen Colbert on US television.
During the interview, he accused British journalists of “dangerous” misrepresentation of controversial remarks contained in his book, Spare, including comparing the people he shot to “chess pieces”.
Harry insisted: “Without a doubt, the most dangerous lie that they have told, is that I somehow boasted about the number of people I killed in Afghanistan.”
However, Mr Crawford suggested the reaction to Harry’s claims was entirely unsurprising.
He told Express.co.uk: “The boy’s all over the place, to be honest, and is trying to do some serious back-pedalling on various fronts.
“The military community is pretty unanimous in its condemnation of his detailing of Taliban deaths, and it does come across as boasting I’m afraid.
“The chess pieces analogy just compounds his error.”
Mr Crawford explained: “You shouldn’t disrespect your enemy, and you should certainly never disrespect the enemy’s dead.
“It’s just not what military people do. He’s lost the plot.”
Asked whether the Prince was coming under pressure from other military personnel in the wake of his comments, Mr Crawford referenced the words of Royal Marine, Afghanistan veteran and double amputee Ben McBean, who last week tweeted that the 38-year-old should “shut up”.
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He writes: “And it seemed to me essential not to be afraid of that number. So my number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me.”
Questioned by Mr Colbert yesterday, he added: “If I heard anyone boasting about that kind of thing, I would be angry. But it’s a lie.
“It’s really troubling and very disturbing that they can get away with it… My words are not dangerous – but the spin of my words are very dangerous to my family. That is a choice they’ve made.”
Harry insisted his intention was to be honest about his experience in Afghanistan, and to give veterans the space to share theirs “without any shame”.
He added: “My whole goal and my attempt with sharing that detail is to reduce the number of [veteran] suicides.”
His initial remarks drew plenty of criticism from senior figures within the British military.
Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said: “All the good work Prince Harry did on behalf of the Armed forces has been undermined by his comments.
“Not only has he gone too far in talking about this in terms of himself but it may have repercussions for others.
“As a member of the Royal Family he has to accept being something of an ambassador for the UK – so his comments may affect the security of his former comrades on foreign operations.”
Express.co.uk has approached Prince Harry for comment about Mr Crawford’s remarks.