The women's magazine that landed an unfortunate scoop

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The Independent Online

So it wasn't Matt Drudge after all who told the world, and the Taliban, that Prince Harry was fighting in Afghanistan. It was, bizarrely, an Australian weekly women's magazine.

New Idea, nicknamed No Idea by some commentators, generally offers a staple tabloid diet of celebrity and royal stories.

On 7 January, the magazine broke the news that Prince Harry was serving in a combat zone in Afghanistan. "Maverick Prince Harry joined his regiment on a covert mission," it revealed. The story was not followed up until a German newspaper ran it on Thursday, and the Drudge Report in the US then picked it up.

In the meantime, New Idea had itself run a second story on 14 February, headlined "Prince Harry goes to war in Afghanistan".

Yesterday the magazine claimed that it had been unaware of a news blackout agreed to by British and some overseas media organisations.

In a statement, it said: "New Idea was not issued with a press embargo and was unaware of the existence of one. We regret any issues the revelation of this story has caused."

In 1989, New Idea, which has a readership of more than two million, was the first publication to reproduce in full the notorious "tampon" telephone conversation between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles.