The Queen wanted both William and Harry to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan when war broke out in 2001, before deciding it was too risky to send the future heir to the throne, an ex-Army chief has revealed in a breach of protocol.
The decision over whether the princes should take part in the conflict was discussed at a meeting between the late Elizabeth II and General Sir Mike Jackson, formerly head of the British Army.
In an upcoming ITVX documentary called The Real Crown, Sir Mike breached protocol by revealing details of his private audience with the Queen. He said: ‘What goes on in those audiences and who says what to whom remains for the two people involved, and I will break the rule about not divulging what goes on on this one occasion.
‘She was very clear. She said, “My grandsons have taken my shilling, therefore they must do their duty.” And that was that. But it was decided that William as heir to the heir, the risk is too great. But for his younger brother, the risk was acceptable.’
Prince William leaving his Tucano training airplane at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, north east England
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on June 3, 2012
The Real Crown reveals that the Queen had put a lot of thought into the decision as she had detailed information about the risks faced by UK armed personnel in Afghanistan.
Sir John Scarlett, at the time head of MI6, said: ‘Of course she has complete clearance to everything. She has complete access to an exceptional amount of info and insight for longer than anyone else. William was very keen to go.’
He added: ‘She’s very, very discreet, completely reliable and completely on top of the detail.
‘I remember thinking at the time, “Wow, Her Majesty knows more about this than we do”.’
Prince Harry in Afghanistan (file photo)
Pictured left: Prince William during his time training in the Army at Bovington in 2007. Pictured right: Prince Harry walks with his best man, the Duke of Cambridge, as he arrives at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for his wedding to Meghan Markle
William completed a training course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst spanning 44 weeks after graduating from university. He was commissioned as an Army officer in December 2006.
He joined the Household Cavalry (Blues and Royals) until 2008 and was later attached to the Royal Air Force and Navy.
Harry served in the Army for ten years, rising to the rank of Captain and undertaking two operational tours of duty in Afghanistan, in 2007-8 and 2012-13.
The documentary shows that William was stopped from joining the war, despite wanting to, due to his position as a future King.
Mark Cann, director of the British Forces Foundation, said in the series: ‘William was very keen to go. Unequivocally.
‘But it was complex, and some very great minds and experienced people took a view on it.
‘I think it was really tricky. Anybody who’s in the military who hasn’t actually been on operation feels a sense of disappointment.
‘And I think especially that was the one (war) at the time, you’ve got everyone around you at the time who’s been involved in it. So there is a sense of disappointment.’
The series, which airs on April 20, also examines storylines from Netflix drama The Crown.
ITV notes that the documentary includes rare archive footage and new interviews with key figures, some of whom have never previously spoken on camera, while also offering insight into the Queen’s perspective during key moments.
Harry sitting in his position on a Spartan armoured vehicle in Helmand province
Harry holding his SA80 rifle as he prepares to patrol through the deserted town of Garmisir
Harry on patrol through the deserted town of Garmisir close to FOB Delhi
Harry firing the 50mm machine gun at Taliban fighters from the observation post at JTAC Hill, close to FOB Delhi (forward operating base), in Helmand province
Prince Harry revealed in his memoir Spare that he killed 25 Taliban fighters during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
The Duke of Sussex, who was known as ‘Captain Wales’ in the military, wrote that he did not think of those killed ‘as people’ but instead ‘chess pieces’ he had taken off the board.
It was the first time he had specified the number of insurgents he personally killed during his time in Afghanistan, where he spent four months as an Apache helicopter pilot during his second tour.
Prince Harry said his military career ‘saved him’ after the tragic death of his mother, Princess Diana, by helping him ‘turn his pain into purpose’.
During an explosive tell-all interview with 60 Minutes, which premiered on January 8, he told host Anderson Cooper: ‘My military career saved me in many regards. It got me out of the spotlight from the UK press.
‘I was able to focus on a purpose larger than myself – to be wearing the same uniform as everybody else, to feel normal for the first time in my life, and accomplish some of the biggest challenges that I ever had.’
Queen Elizabeth II ‘broke Edward VIII’s heart’ when she denied his ‘dying wish’ to grant Wallis Simpson HRH title, Duke of Windsor’s nurse claims
The Queen denied her ‘favourite uncle’ – the Duke of Windsor – his dying wish just 10 days before his death, a new documentary has revealed.
Aged 46, Elizabeth II famously visited Edward VIII at his and Wallis Simpson‘s house in Paris, France, during the former King’s last days, and apparently rejected his request to grant his wife an HRH title.
The late royal, who died in 1972, had abdicated the throne in 1936 out of love for Wallis, who was American and divorced.
Speaking on The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor, which airs on ITVX on April 20, the Duke’s nurse Julie Alexander said the rejection ‘broke his heart’.
‘He was terribly sick,’ she said. ‘He couldn’t have weighed – maybe 80 lbs, if that…wasn’t eating at all.
Aged 46, Elizabeth II famously visited Edward VIII at his and Wallis Simpson’s house in Paris, France, during the former King’s last days, and apparently rejected his request to grant his wife an HRH title. Pictured, the Queen, Wallis and Prince Philip during the visit in Paris
‘The Duke was very, very concerned about his appearance but he insisted that he’d be sitting up in a chair, not in bed, and wearing clothes to hide any tubes.’
The visit, although melancholy in nature, also marked the first time Wallis hosted the late monarch.
‘The Queen said no,’ Julie continued. ‘She said no, even on that sad day. It was, you know, breaking his heart, I think. That’s what he wanted… that title for her. Not having that title for his wife was a slap in his face.’
The visit which took place in May, 51 years ago, was also depicted in Netflix’s The Crown.
Elizabeth spoke to ‘uncle David’ – as he was known to close family – alone before appearing with just the Duchess for a photograph. The Duke died on May 28, less than a month before his 78th birthday.
Edward’s relationship with Wallis, who had been twice married before her union with him, was a scandal when news first emerged of it.
The late royal, who died in 1972, had abdicated the throne in 1936 out of love for Wallis, who was American and divorced
Edward’s relationship with Wallis, who had been twice married before her union with him, was a scandal when news first emerged of it. Elizabeth, Wallis and Edward pictured in 1967
His proposition to marry her – whilst divorce proceedings with her second husband were still ongoing – sparked a constitutional crisis which culminated in Edward’s decision to abdicate.
After his abdication, Edward was made the Duke of Windsor by his brother – the new King George VI – and granted the style of His Royal Highness.
However, after their 1937 marriage and decision to settle in France, Edward was upset by the King’s decision to issue Letters Patent which denied Wallis the style of Her Royal Highness.
Edward received a tax-free allowance from his brother which went some way to maintaining his and Wallis’s lavish lifestyle.
It comes as last summer, a historian claimed that Edward opted to abdicate because his father’s treatment of him had made him a ‘rebel’ who did not have the ‘self-discipline’ to be king.
Speaking at the Chalke Valley History Festival, which is sponsored by the Daily Mail, historian Professor Jane Ridley said the royal’s shocking decision to step back from duties stemmed from the fact his father had made ‘no attempt’ to prepare him for being king.
After their 1937 marriage and decision to settle in France, Edward was upset by the King’s decision to issue Letters Patent which denied Wallis the style of Her Royal Highness
She said she showed him no affection or praise and made no effort to ‘build a relationship’, which in the long run had ‘quite bad effects’ and was one of the ‘key factors leading up to the abdication’.
As a result, whilst Elizabeth and her father King George VI are ‘famous’ for diligently reading official government papers, Edward’s would ‘come back with wine stains and cigarette burns on them’, Professor Ridley said.
She added Edward thought his role was a ‘waste of time’ and to a ‘large extent’ this was a ‘reaction against his dad who bullied him’.
Edward spoke of his childhood and his father in his 1951 autobiography, A King’s Story, in which he claimed the concept of duty was ‘drilled’ into him.
However, Professor Ridley said Edward and his brothers, who included the future King George VI, were ‘terrified’ of their father.
‘He would shout at them for things like being five minutes late for dinner. They would be sent back to their bedrooms’, she said.
Edward spoke of his childhood and his father in his 1951 autobiography, A King’s Story, in which he claimed the concept of duty was ‘drilled’ into him. Pictured giving his abdication speech
Speaking on The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor, which airs on ITVX on April 20, the Duke’s nurse Julie Alexander said the rejection ‘broke his heart’. Pictured, Elizabeth and her uncle, Edward, in 1933
The Duke died on May 28, less than a month before his 78th birthday. Elizabeth, Wallis and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured at Edward’s funeral
‘It is bad enough being shouted at by your father, but it is even harder if your father is the king. These four princes were brought up to be frightened of their father.’
She added: ‘George made no attempt to prepare his son for being king. Being king in a conventional fashion. So his son rebels against him and rebels against his idea of kingship.
‘George V and the present queen are famous for turning around their red boxes full of documents within hours of getting them back and being punctual and conscientious and diligent.
‘I think there is quite a lot of quite sort of not always fascinating work they have to do.
‘With Edward VIII, the documents would come back from his place at Windsor… they would come back with wine stains on them and cigarette burns.
‘It was quite clear that he wasn’t respecting all the rules about being discreet, and he just thought the whole thing was a waste of time.
‘I think that to a large extent began as a reaction against his dad who bullied him. He thought his dad was a silly old thing, and he became what he was, a rebel, Edward VIII.’
‘When he became king he realised he didn’t want to do it. Couldn’t do it. Didn’t have the self-discipline to do it,’ she added.
Following his abdication, Edward was made the Duke of Windsor by his brother and granted the style of His Royal Highness.
After being slammed for meeting Adolf Hitler in Germany in 1937, Edward and Wallis spent much of their time holding lavish parties and travelling between Paris and New York.
Lord Snowdon’s lover Nicky Haslam says Princess Margaret’s husband was a ‘terrific seducer’ but he never thought the royal couple would go ‘as far as marriage’ in new docuseries
Princess Margaret‘s fractured marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones lasted 18 years before they finally divorced – yet one of Lord Snowdon’s male lovers has shared his surprise that the pair’s relationship even made it that far.
British society interior designer Nicky Haslam, 83, claimed in his memoir Redeeming Features (2010) that he had ‘a very brief romance’ with the late Earl a year before his 1960 wedding to Queen Elizabeth II‘s younger sister.
Nicky appears in ITV‘s new five-part royal docuseries The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor, which airs on Thursday 20 April on ITVX, to discuss society photographer Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret’s relationship.
In the first episode, titled Love and Duty, Nicky explains: ‘Tony was a terrific seducer, he could seduce that table leg. He was terrific fun, Tony, a devil incarnate but a charmer at everything.
‘He was naughty but wonderful, I mean naughty in the nicest sense,’ says the socialite, before admitting: ‘I was quite surprised that it went that far, as far as marriage [between Antony and Margaret].’
Princess Margaret’s fractured marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones (pictured together in 1974) lasted 18 years before they finally divorced – yet one of Lord Snowdon’s male lovers has shared his surprise that the pair’s relationship even made it that far
Lady Anne Glenconner, the late Princess Margaret’s lady-in-waiting, also features on the episode – but has less than positive words to say about the royal’s husband.
She says: ‘Once the marriage started to go wrong, I was there for her when she was having a difficult time. I did see the way Tony treated her which I didn’t like at all.
‘The thing about Tony was, that he was so spiteful – and did these horrible things. he used to leave little notes,’ claims Lady Glenconner.
The socialite, 90, who was a maid of honour at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, tells the programme how one message to his wife apparently read ‘I hate you’.
‘I don’t know why he behaved like that really, I just felt very sorry for her,’ confesses Lady Glenconner.
She adds that ‘Tony was quite clever… he kept in with The Queen and The Queen Mother. Absolutely. I mean they thought he was wonderful.’
Elsewhere in the programme, Nicky recalls a not-so blissful moment between the Earl and Princess.
‘We were at a party and Tony had one of those matches that would light anywhere, you’d strike them on, old fashion matches, and he was sort of lighting them and throwing them at Princess Margaret,’ explains the socialite.
British society interior designer Nicky Haslam (pictured), 83, claimed in his memoir Redeeming Features (2010) that he had ‘a very brief romance’ with the late Earl a year before his 1960 wedding to Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister
Nicky appears in ITV’s new five-part royal docuseries The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor, which airs on Thursday 20 April on ITVX, to discuss society photographer Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret’s relationship (seen in 1966)
‘And she said: “Oh Tony, don’t do that. You could’ve set my dress on fire, and he said “Good thing too, I’ve always hated that material.””
Margaret, who died in 2002 aged 71, met Antony in 1958 at a dinner party organised by mutual friends, and wed at Westminster Abbey in May 1960, the first royal wedding to be televised.
However, the union was reportedly not a good one, and the pair soon drifted apart, with both royals entering into extra-marital affairs.
Margaret famously invited Roddy Llewellyn, a lover who was 17 years her junior, to the island of Mustique in 1974, where they were photographed by paparazzi, precipitating the end of her marriage.
Margaret and Antony, who passed away in 2017, made their divorce official in 1978, after 18 years of marriage.
The romance between Anthony Armstrong-Jones and the royal has been romanticised more than once, most recently in the second and third season of Netflix royal drama The Crown.
The full series is available on Thursday 20 April on ITVX