The Stop the War Coalition today accused Prince Harry of being “arrogant and insensitive” after he admitted killing insurgents in Afghanistan.
In a series of interviews to mark the end of his service in Afghanistan, Prince Harry admitted that he had killed members of the Taliban during his 20-week posting, saying: “'Take a life to save a life. That’s what we revolve around, I suppose”.
But Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, called the 28-year-old’s comments “crass”, and asked how he knew those he’d killed were actually members of the Taliban.
"In recent months many civilians have been killed by air strikes. This arrogant and insensitive attitude to killing Afghans, whoever they are, is hardly likely to win hearts and minds - a supposed aim of the war,” German said.
She added: “Prince Harry returns to a life of idleness and luxury, unlike most soldiers who face unemployment, austerity and social problems.”
The Stop the War Coalition is currently finalising details of events next month to mark the 10th anniversary of large protests against going to war in Iraq.
News that Prince Harry’s four-month tour of duty as an Apache attack helicopter pilot had come to an end emerged yesterday evening.
In the interviews that accompanied the announcement, the third in line for the throne revealed intimate details of his life as a solider for the first time.
Asked if he had killed from the cockpit of his £40million aircraft he replied: “Yeah, so lots of people have. The squadron’s been out here. Everyone’s fired a certain amount.”
The Taliban have also attacked Prince Harry’s comments, branding him a “coward” and calling his description of life in the army an insult to the men who had fought and died alongside him.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said Prince Harry was a “coward” for only speaking after he had left Afghanistan.
“This statement is not even worth condemning. It is worse than that,” he told The Telegraph via telephone from an undisclosed location.
“To describe the war in Afghanistan as a game demeans anyone – especially a prince, who is supposed to be made of better things,” Mujahid said.
He added: “It shows the lack of understanding, of knowledge…It shows they are unfamiliar with the situation and shows why they are losing.”
Although his admission will almost certainly be used as ongoing propaganda by the Taliban, the Prince remained unapologetic about his duties as a soldier.
Prince Harry said: “Take a life to save a life, that’s what we revolve around. If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game.”
He added: “I’m not here on a free pass...our job out here is to make sure the guys are safe on the ground and if that means shooting someone who is shooting them, then we will do it.”
Speaking to the Daily Mail, a senior Army source said: “Harry is flying an attack helicopter and that’s one of the jobs the guys do: Attack. It would be unthinkable for a gunner to go on a deployment and not have several engagements with the enemy. Of course he has killed.”
Prince Harry was given no special treatment in Afghanistan and worked, ate and slept in the same basic conditions as the other pilots.
He called the experience “as normal as it’s going to get”, adding: “I’m one of the guys, I don’t get treated any differently”.
Prince Harry’s first tour of duty was as a forward air commander on the ground in Afghanistan.
His deployment was cut short in 2008 however, after the news was leaked in the US and defence officials deemed his continued presence there to be a risk to his fellow soldiers.
Bitterly disappointed and desperate to return to the frontline, Prince Harry retrained as a helicopter pilot, which led to him piloting the Apache.
Apache helicopters carry a large weapons arsenal, including rockets, missiles and a 30mm cannon, and can fly at over 200mph.