Duke of York criticises Bush's Iraq policy

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Indy Politics

The Duke of York launched a forceful attack today accused President George Bush's administration of failing to listen and learn from Britain during the conflict in Iraq.

In a rare newspaper interview ahead of a scheduled 10-day visit to America to support British business, Prince Andrew said the aftermath of the Iraq war had left Britons with a "healthy scepticism" towards what is said in Washington.

"If you are looking at colonialism, if you are looking at operations on an international scale, if you are looking at understanding each other's culture, understanding how to operate in a military insurgency campaign - we have been through them all," he said. "We've won some, lost some, drawn some."

"The fact is there is quite a lot of experience over here which is valid and should be listened to," he told the International Herald Tribune.

The prince, fourth in line to the English throne, said that while Britain remained America's number one ally, the post-war situation in Iraq had many here to wonder: "Why didn't anyone listen to what was said and the advice that was given".

"(There are) occasions when people in the UK would wish that those in responsible positions in the U.S. might listen and learn from our experiences," he said,

He added that it was, after all, the Americans who had asked for advice: "It's not as if we had been forcing that across the Atlantic". Prince Andrew served in the British Navy for 22 years and saw active service as a helicopter pilot during the Falklands war with Argentina in 1982 in which more than 1,000 people were killed.

He described that experience as one that changed him "out of all recognition" and given him "a different view of life".

Now, as a full-time trade envoy for Britain, Andrew said he realised "the real people who are actually making the United Kingdom what it is are the people who are doing business".

He also used the interview to praise his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, whom he divorced in 1996 after a 10-year marriage which he said "didn't go quite according to plan".

"We have managed to work together to bring our children up in a way that few others have been able to do and I am extremely grateful to be able to do that," he said.

The prince is due to depart on Tuesday for a 10-day trip to the United States in his role as an envoy to help British companies make contacts and seal new contracts.