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News black-out

Jon Williams Jon Williams | 08:27 UK time, Friday, 29 February 2008

At its simplest, journalism is about telling people things they don't know. So when the Ministry of Defence approached the BBC - along with other parts of the UK media - to ask us not to tell our audiences about a possible deployment of Prince Harry to Afghanistan, it was something we thought long and hard about.

Prince HarryA news black-out is unusual, but not unique. An agreement exists between the police and the media over the reporting of kidnaps - the police have the right to request that media organisations don't report an abduction while negotiations are under way, in case it makes the release of the hostage more difficult; in return, they accept the responsibility to update the media regularly and reveal the full story, on camera, once the situation has been resolved. When lives are at risk, it's not always helpful to have things played out in the glare of publicity.

Last summer - on the day my colleague Alan Johnston was released in Gaza - the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Richard Dannatt, met editors to make the case for a voluntary agreement. He was very candid; Harry wanted a career in the Army and he needed to be able to be deployed to do what he'd been trained to do, even if it was just for a day.

After five months of discussions, using the kidnap agreement as our model, the MoD and the UK media reached an understanding; we wouldn't speculate or report on the prince's deployments to minimise the danger to him and to others. In return, we'd get access to him before, during and after his time in Afghanistan. It was a voluntary agreement - any of the organisations could have decided to leave at any time. We - and the other UK broadcasters and newspapers - were clear that we would not report his deployment.

So, for the past ten weeks, the BBC, ITV and Sky News have been filming with Prince Harry - the first time we've been up close and personal with him. We interviewed him at Clarence House in mid-December, just before he was sent to Afghanistan, we spent some time with him at the start of January when he was settling in at a remote base in Southern Helmand Province, and most recently, we filmed with him last week at a new location in Helmand Province.

In truth, the surprise is that the agreement lasted so long. We - and the other UK broadcasters - were clear that we would not report his deployment. But nor would we deceive our audiences.

On Christmas Day, when neither Prince William nor Prince Harry attended the regular service with other members of the Royal Family at Sandringham, we agreed with the Ministry of Defence that they would say that both princes were spending Christmas with their regiments - William volunteered for Christmas duty to help out his brother! It prompted some inquiries from one US TV network who had to be briefed on the story.

More recently, on Tuesday, the German newspaper Bild ran a diary story asking "where's Prince Harry?" and speculating that the gossip was that "he'd gone to war". We agreed that while the story was speculative and confined to diary pages, that we would not break the agreement we'd reached with the MoD.

Then yesterday, the Drudge Report - the online US website famous for breaking the story of Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky - put the story on its front page. The game was up. We, and the other broadcasters, agreed with the Ministry of Defence that the story was out and it would be wrong not to tell our audiences what had been going on.

We don't do this stuff lightly - there are no other "voluntary agreements" in place at the moment, there's nothing else we're not telling you. Until yesterday, only a handful of people in the BBC knew about the story - trust me, keeping secrets from other journalists is hard work! Our job normally is to make these things public, not keep them from you. But this was never just about Prince Harry's safety, it was also about the security of the soldiers serving with him. No editor wants to be responsible for increasing the risk they already face from the Taleban. Nor do I think our audiences would have thanked us for doing so.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 10:23 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Stony wrote:

Well done to the British Media! There is still hope then for some sense. It is a pity that some foreign agency just could not wait for the end of the Royal's stint - it just proves the point of the length some "paparazzi" go to to hit the headlines... Commensense goes out of the window.

Justified and a good case for a news black out. If people's lives are at risk (and clearly by letting the people at large know that Prince Harry was in Afghanistan, other solidiers' lives would have been at risk) then the media should act with due care and regard.

To suggest otherwise, is to be happy with having blood on your hands. Well done the BBC, the British media, and those who kept this story quiet.

  • 3.
  • At 10:26 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Rich wrote:

Good to see journalists in this country showing restraint for once, shame the US reporters can't do the same.

  • 4.
  • At 10:27 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

I'm pleased the BBC and the rest of the UK press agreed to do this for Prince Harry. The Prince has always made clear he wants to be a professional soldier. Even royalty should get to pursue their chosen career while waiting to be a monarch.

It's nice to see the press taking the responsible way of doing things.

  • 5.
  • At 10:29 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • ronnie malone wrote:

congratulations to the bbc they finally got something right. the safety of soldiers comes first

  • 6.
  • At 10:29 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mel Read wrote:

I think that it is a great credit to the British media that this agreement works so well. It is a disappointment that a US scandal website should feel that they have the right to publish a story about a member of our Royal family that has absolutely nothing to do with them or their country.
In doing so, they endanger Harry and his comrades, but that of course is of lesser importance than a news story.
Credit all round to the MoD, British media outlets, but most of all to Harry and all our other brave boys for doing a sterling job in very difficult circumstances.

  • 7.
  • At 10:34 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Christina Spybey wrote:

I applaud the British media not reporting about Prince Harry. It is a wise and strategic decision. Whoever who leaks the news are now putting Prince Harry and his men at risk.

  • 8.
  • At 10:34 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Steve wrote:

Jon - though I think this gentleman's agreement is/was ludicrous and offensive - I really admire the honesty with which you've come here and blogged about it. It's much appreciated.

  • 9.
  • At 10:34 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Bill Taylor in England wrote:

Good call.
Pity it did not last longer.
Thanks

  • 10.
  • At 10:36 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Merson Tuffers wrote:

For once, I have to give credit to the the UK press and media and say 'Well Done'. This is probably the most responsible bit of non-reporting we have experienced for a very long time. Prince Harry was born into the Royal Family, he didn't make the choice. He has always stated that he doesn't want preferential treatment and would like to pursue his career in exactly the same manner as his collegues. Thanks to this blackout, he has been allowed to do so for the last ten weeks.
It is unfortunate that someone, somewhere felt that it was their right to now take this small priviledge away from him.
My congratulations to Prince Harry, to the MoD and to the UK press.
Now, is there any chance of a blackout on the Beckhams, Jordan, Cheryl & Ashley......??? :-D

  • 11.
  • At 10:36 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

What a contradiction from the BEEB.Agreement not to report, then reporting on what other agencies has reported on? Ashamed, you should be!

  • 12.
  • At 10:36 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • A. Hasnat wrote:

I praise the British media for the role they have played in this news story. And I commend Prince Harry for the highly admirable commitment he has shown to this alternate character Harry Wales, the soldier. I personally refrained from visiting the Drudge Report website as I have no intention of giving them the satisfaction of increased hits. However, Harry Wales has done his duty and I think he should be brought back now for the sake of himself and his regiment members.

  • 13.
  • At 10:37 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • David Norbury wrote:

I think it's absolutely right that this was not made general knowledge by the press. The inherent risks with sending someone with as high a profile as Prince Harry were too high and his known presence would have had a impact, not just on himself, but on the soldiers serving with him.

Further to this, I think it's time that the press had a more serious look at their approach that everything must be common knowledge - it amazes me how much coverage is given to police investigations, military operations and similar events when they are in motion - this can only hinder the work that is being done. It would be better to know that a mission has succeeded after the event then potentially be the reason it failed.

And don't get me started on press coverage of people dropping out of the limelight to sort out personal problems. Irony obivously not a big thing in the media!

  • 14.
  • At 10:39 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • James wrote:

I just wanted to say well done to all the UK news editors for agreeing to, and keeping, this black out.

It is important to report most stories but where there is a risk to life it is important to be sensitive about it.

The decision that you all took is highly commendable (something you don't normally say about UK journalism!).

"No editor wants to be responsible for increasing the risk they already face from the Taleban. Nor do I think our audiences would have thanked us for doing so."

Well said, Mr Williams. The BBC and, for once, the rest of the British media have used their heads. A shame Drudge Report couldn’t do the same.

  • 16.
  • At 10:41 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Christopher Clark wrote:

Thank you for such a clear statement; personally I can sympathise 100% with it. But please don't be quite so diffident or even apologetic about it: it would be right to question the motives, very closely indeed, of anybody who seriously disagreed with what you have written.

  • 17.
  • At 10:42 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

Fair play and well done to the British media, for once doing the right thing. We need to look after the boys doing their jobs out there.

  • 18.
  • At 10:46 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Rob Whyte wrote:

It is clear that the black-out was needed in order to assure the saftey of everyone concerned and I'd be really surprised to see people complaining about the fact that the information was not published.
I can't help but feel angered by the Drudge Report's disregard to saftey.

  • 19.
  • At 10:48 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

"there's nothing else we're not telling you"

By telling the public about an event that has happened and was not initially reported, how can you possibly expect anyone to believe the quoted line above.

Even if it was true, there's no doubt it won't be true for long. There have always been issues that have not been reported in the media for long periods of time, and indeed, some issues that somehow never saw the light of day.

Carry on being deluded Britain. Your government has your best interests at heart. Honestly. Because they said so. So it has to be true.

  • 20.
  • At 10:57 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Martin NcNicol wrote:

This does little to add to the credibility of the media, who appear prepared to collude in misleading the public to indulge the wishes of what already seems to be a very self-indulgent young man.

  • 21.
  • At 10:57 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Il_pirata wrote:

I am amazed at the arrogance of the media in general and the BBC in particular. Military operational detail is not a matter of public interest and it is not in the public interest to divulge them. Always quick on the trigger with anti British forces stories, often tacitly supporting the enemy, the BBC editors should try some active service and see how they get on.

  • 22.
  • At 10:57 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • JULIUS KANUBAH wrote:

It's great that you reached the deal not to report on the Prince's deployment and stay on the frontline in Afghanistan.It helped minimize the risks to other soldiers including himself.

But what confuses me is, what in the unfortunate case Prince Harry could have been wounded or even killed on the battle field? What could have been the next course of the BBC, to report on not to report that he's was wounded or killed on the battle field in Afghanistan?

Julius Kanubah
Monrovia, Liberia

  • 23.
  • At 10:57 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Terry C wrote:

I think the decision was very responsible and I commend the news organisations and journalists who kept 'their' end of the bargain.

It's a shame that news agencies overseas felt the need to put headlines/ratings over the safety of troops engaging in a war.

Thank you Jon for the explanation

  • 24.
  • At 10:58 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • beckstar1982 wrote:

i totally think you did the right thing by agreeing to not publish anything. its just a shame it has come out now and from an american website no less! what are they trying to do? get our boys killed?

Any chance the news blackout could be extended permanently to the entire royal family?

  • 26.
  • At 11:02 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • John O'Shea wrote:

I think the BBC was correct to agree not to report the Prince's presence in Afghanistan.

  • 27.
  • At 11:02 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Doh Mar wrote:

You guys (BBC, everyone who agreed) did the right thing. Harry might be a royal, but he deserves the same rights as everyone else, including privacy, and the right to work a job. Quite frankly, the man has my admiration for serving his country, and it is a shame that disreputable media would leak this information just to sell more copies.

  • 28.
  • At 11:02 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Andy, UK wrote:

Post David Kelly the BBC will do just about anything this government tells them to.It does now raise an interesting point: the media set themselves up as a sort of unofficial opposition to this government during the dog days of the Tory party. The ethos was"You can't trust the Tories to take the government to task, we'll do it".So now the government and the media are both 100% distrusted by the general public, where does that the leave the public? Deeply cynical is the answer.

  • 29.
  • At 11:02 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Tim wrote:

I have been watching and also reading BBC news for 20 years. I can only say that I am saddened to see your reporting standards getting lower and lower as the years go by. Embedded journalism, agreements not to report, thousands of stories about Russian free speech (ok we got your point), all clearly indicate a sad mix of politics and journalism. Good luck to you all...

  • 30.
  • At 11:02 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • D Hutchison wrote:

Mr Williams,

I utterly support the stance of the BBC (favourite news organisation) and that of the other UK news companies, a very common sense approach. It would be nonsensical to increase the risk to Prince Harry and his colleagues by reporting on where he is serving. I would assume that the same would be done with Prince William if he was serving in a war zone. Unfortunately, the Americans (or some of them) have chosen to disregard common sense by their actions.

Unfortunately, this situation has only reinforced my personal opinion of Americans, and particularly their media, instead of improving them.

Regards,

D Hutchison

  • 31.
  • At 11:03 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • tonydudet wrote:

does anyone else think this has been leaked deliberately as a way of publicising he is in afghanistan and getting him out?

  • 32.
  • At 11:04 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • P Thurman wrote:

Harry's deployment in Afghanistan is news only to his family and friends. I do not believe that I stand alone in saying "This is NOT newsworthy!" I am sick of the media dictating to me what I should be interested in, and what constitutes "news". There are important issues daily which need investigating and reporting. There are news items of educational or informative subject.

News is now only news because the media has labelled it news. No different to the celebrity culture of being a celebrity because you have labelled yourself a celebrity intead of actually earning your fame.

  • 33.
  • At 11:04 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ben Mason wrote:

Like a lot of people in the UK yesterday, I found myself surprised as the story broke. Not at the fact Prince Harry was deployed, but that the UK Media stuck with a agreement for so long. I feel sometimes our media and 24 hour a day news coverage can place a great deal of pressure on editors to provide as much coverage as possible. This and the recent 'open and honest' policies implemented by all the major broadcasters in the UK, would have, I imagine, made implementing this agreement particularly though provoking. I take my hat off to all the media, who have 'gone up a notch' in my opinion, as they enabled a Prince to carry out the very function he and his colleagues had trained long and hard for. I hope now he is left with his unit to complete his tour, otherwise I feel the MoD will withdraw him from the front line.

  • 34.
  • At 11:05 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Steven Abram wrote:

I think your approach was totally correct. It is good and right that the Prince should be allowed to taste real life and given who he is in the situation he needed protection.

I think I am right in saying that even sposes of service men often don't know where they are for national security reasons so such an agreement should harlly be necessary and indeed the press could quite easily handle it from this perspective. The public don't have to know everything about the Royals.

I am only sad that he and his regiment have been compromised and that he now has to go for 'special consideration' because of his high profile status.

  • 35.
  • At 11:05 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mark Jackson wrote:

I would like to say "well done" to the BBC News and the other News teams for keeping the quiet on the pact with Prince Harry.

Just hope you can come to he same arrangment when he wants to go back on tour with the army to do his job that he trained for.

For someone who gets all the stick for having a wild lifestyle, he should be praised for doing a job that mny in the UK would never do or be capable of doing.

My last view is that with the story being out in the open, let hope the Britsh soilders are not put into increase danger

  • 36.
  • At 11:09 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • James Aldous wrote:

I don't think you need to explain Jon. The reasons for the media "blackout" are obvious and numerous. Aside from the fact he would be a target, he is entitled to a private life as much as you or I. The notion that because he is a member of royalty his every action needs to be monitored and recorded in print or on film is flawed. Give him some space to let him live his life and let him do his job properly.

Good luck to Harry I say.

  • 37.
  • At 11:09 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mel Read wrote:

I think that it is a great credit to the British media that this agreement works so well. It is a disappointment that a US scandal website should feel that they have the right to publish a story about a member of our Royal family that has absolutely nothing to do with them or their country.
In doing so, they endanger Harry and his comrades, but that of course is of lesser importance than a news story.
Credit all round to the MoD, British media outlets, but most of all to Harry and all our other brave boys for doing a sterling job in very difficult circumstances.

  • 38.
  • At 11:10 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Steve wrote:

I don't agree with the blackout - but a very gutsy blog entry Jon. Thanks.

  • 39.
  • At 11:11 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Antonis Kyriazis wrote:

I see no ground for your article.
The MoD let out the news deliberately, to have him pulled out. It was the only logical course of action to let his pride intact and not risk his life.

sorry...
ak

  • 40.
  • At 11:11 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Clive wrote:

"there's nothing else we're not telling you"

Yeah right!

  • 41.
  • At 11:14 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Janet wrote:

How sad that Prince Harry said this was the only time he felt 'normal'.

  • 42.
  • At 11:15 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ian White wrote:

I'm a journalist. You did the right thing. It is not in the public interest in any way to have any trooper's life put at more risk for the sake of a day's headline.

  • 43.
  • At 11:15 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Dan MacMillan wrote:

Well done the BBC!

  • 44.
  • At 11:16 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Leanne wrote:

I completely agree that the BBC and all other media outlets did the right thing in this instance. Prince Harry has, in my opinion, the right to carry out his military service just as every other serviceman and woman does, but unfortunately for Harry, he has the media breathing down his neck at every given opportunity.

I remember a few months back the parents of other servicemen complaining that their sons and daughters were being deployed while Harry was being held back and was getting preferential treatment - couldn't they see he was being held back to ensure the safety of their children, as well as that of himself?

  • 45.
  • At 11:17 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Roo wrote:

Personally, the fact that the uk media followed this blackout has restored my faith somewhat in the news agencies of this country, and I give them my respect.

Shame on 'The Drudge Report'. Placing sensationalism & entertainment before common sense and safety of our Prince & his fellows is low and base.

  • 46.
  • At 11:19 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Rob wrote:

I congratulate the British media. The lives of other soldiers would have been put in so much more danger. This isn't preferential treatment for Harry, it's common sense. He would have been a bullet magnet and we'd be seeing a lot more bodies coming back as the Taliban tried to kill him. John Snow's shameful rant on Channel 4 news last night was depressing. He should be ashamed.

  • 47.
  • At 11:19 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • JR wrote:

You have my support - you did the right thing - well done!
Anyway, there are lots of things we don't need to know about, and what Prince Harry or anybody else want to do or not do is none of our business. We don't want our privacy infringed, so others have the right to expect the same.

  • 48.
  • At 11:19 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Sharada Keats wrote:

By doing this the BBC facilitates him going to Afghanistan. If it had been reported initially, he would not have been deployed at risk to his fellow soldiers. I understand that this is an action that's mutually beneficial to the Royals and the BBC, but not to those serving with Harry. At the end of the day, it looks like a mockery put in place to grant a pampered boy one of his greatest wishes. Being born into privilege in this day and age means he *cannot* have everything he wants, not the other way around, surely??!!

  • 49.
  • At 11:20 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Doh Mar wrote:

You guys (BBC, everyone who agreed) did the right thing. Harry might be a royal, but he deserves the same rights as everyone else, including privacy, and the right to work a job. Quite frankly, the man has my admiration for serving his country, and it is a shame that disreputable media would leak this information just to sell more copies.

Dont you think that such an arrangement would in the future put the lives of the BBC, and other, reporters at risk? They could well be considered colluding with one side and thus loosing their neutral position which have so far allowed them to move relatively freely with e.g. the Taliban.

  • 51.
  • At 11:22 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Richard Ratcliffe wrote:

You could not have done it any better. It is a credit to you all that the story did not come out until now. It is good to see sensible common sense decisions being taken.

  • 52.
  • At 11:23 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Polly wrote:

In essence, Harry has been trained for a job he cannot do for security reasons. Why not retrain him for something he can do?

  • 53.
  • At 11:26 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • R Hardy wrote:

I fully applaud the British media for once putting our Prince's safety above the public interest. I don't know why you feel the need to defend this at all! Well done to the BBC.

  • 54.
  • At 11:26 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • John wrote:

I believe that you made the correct decision(s) on this.

You do have a duty to inform the public - but clearly this does not include putting lives at risk when the only benefit is to satisfy public curiosity.

On this occassion I believe that the English media have done themselves much credit.

  • 55.
  • At 11:27 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • MC wrote:

Perhaps it would have been best to have said to Harry 'No you cannot go - it is just not practical - tough.' rather than having a UK wide cover up. Just because a prince has chosen a career and is 'frustrated' doesn't mean the whole of the UK has to alter the way it normally functions.

  • 56.
  • At 11:29 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Tony Smith wrote:

I think the BBC and the other news organisations need to be commended for this agreement and I think there should be more of them.

I am increasingly sickened by some of things that get made public in the interest of journalism and it's not only the tabloids that are guilty. I realise that the media has a very important role in some respects not least of which is keeping the government honest (ahem) but there are some things that I read about and I have to question whether or not public interest has taken precedence over public decency.

  • 57.
  • At 11:30 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Trev Hutchinson wrote:

It makes a refreshing change to see that some common sense is still being used in today's "P.C society".
The lives of all the servicemen involved, not just Prince Harry, would have been put at increased risk if this story had been reported. A sensible decision not to report it. People's lives MUST ALWAYS be put ahead of a "Good news story".

Congratulations Joe Williams on your level headed approach to a situation which, handled otherwise, could have become the mechanism for a disaster.

As a broadcaster during guerilla warfare we understood only too well the disastrous consequences of the public 'need to know' when lives were at risk. We didnt take the chance then either.

Common sense - at last.

  • 59.
  • At 11:31 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • chris wrote:

I think that this was the right decision, but I think that there should be some time-limit on how long the public should be kept in the dark (except for things like hostage situations where the timing is out of the control of those requesting the agreement). Would the media have been happy if this went on for six-months or a year?

Also, I think that the media should be careful to ensure that the time scheduled for the eventual release of this information is not politically motivated, for example just before an Election or just when some enquiry is due to report.

  • 60.
  • At 11:31 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Alf Williams wrote:

Chapeau!

Well done to the British media and to young Prince Harry too. It's a surprise that this 'cover up' went on for so long and a pity it couldn't go on for longer!

Thanks Jon.

  • 61.
  • At 11:33 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Dion McKenna wrote:

Good to see Harry finally got to do what he wanted to do.
Hopefully he will be able to go on further deployments without being hassled.

Would be nice if the media would just leave them alone all together you don't see prince charles on tv every night (who would want to).
Its one thing to get someone on new at a charity night, its another thing to be chaseing them around the world like a virus and not giving them free time to themselves except when they are locked behind high walls.

Only other thing I could say to Harry if he wants to get rid of the media following him everywhere is join the SAS.

  • 62.
  • At 11:36 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mark Wrixon-Jones wrote:

If only more stories could be handled like this the UK media might not be seen as if they enjoy living in the gutter and have got something against our own country. The fact that only one comment doesn't seem to agree with it means it was the right decision.

  • 63.
  • At 11:36 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • bill c wrote:

It is at moments like this that, for all the criticism the British media often recieve (particulalry the BBC), I feel strangely proud of the media and the way that this has all been dealt with.
Thanks for the frankness of your post.

  • 64.
  • At 11:36 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • R Hardy wrote:

I fully applaud the British media for once putting our Prince's safety above the public interest. I don't know why you feel the need to defend this at all! Well done to the BBC.

  • 65.
  • At 11:37 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Nick wrote:

It's amazing that the media could agree on anything let alone keeping such a sensitive issue secret so all credit to everyone involved. However, it's a pity that such tactics can't be employed more often rather than the frequent speculation that invades our news bulletins nowadays.

Whilst I admire Prince Harry's determination to carry out his full duties as a serving officer, I do feel that this has turned out to be something of a publicity exercise with the media continuing to follow him and preparing footage for the inevitable disclosure of the prince's deployment.

It would have been far preferable to allow him to serve in Afghanistan without any media intrusion whatsoever.

  • 66.
  • At 11:38 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • James wrote:

Well done BBC for this blackout. I feel anyone who disagrees with the blackout has little regard for the lives of soilders or the privacy of Prince Harry.

  • 67.
  • At 11:41 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Suresh wrote:

It is a good gesture form the British Media but Prince Harry should be considered as a normal soldier serving the country.
If MoD withdraws him, it is definitely a coward act.

  • 68.
  • At 11:41 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Alison C wrote:

Congratulations to the BBC and other British media for not reporting this until force to.

Simon, if you read this article correctly you would see that the British media released the story after consulting the MOD. So they are not just reporting waht was reported to get out of the agreement.

  • 69.
  • At 11:41 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • jennifer wrote:

It's a slippery slope to censorship. All this talk of Taliban and a martyrous attempt at protecting national security is embarrasing and cringe-worthy.

The deployment of Prince Harry is a joke; he's being mollycoddled out there, and everybody, including Taleban, know that the monarch prove no threat since they have no influence whatsoever. I understand that harm could have come to Harry because of what he represents, but the chances were too small to qualify a media blackout. This was a petty issue to have a blackout and cheapens the whole concept. Maybe the blackout happened not because of security, but so that we couldn't see how well treated and favoured Harry was in the army.

We all know journalism has no 'gentleman's honour'; funny how as soon as the Drudge report exposed the situation, the BBC felt they could cash in on it too...

  • 70.
  • At 11:42 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Matthew Booth wrote:

This has restored some of my faith in the British media- the fact that an agreement held for 10 weeks on such a high profile story and that it wasn't the British media that broke the story is brilliant, responsible and, as a British citizen, appreciated.

  • 71.
  • At 11:43 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • James Aldous wrote:

I don't think you need to explain Jon. The reasons for the media "blackout" are obvious and numerous. Aside from the fact he would be a target, he is entitled to a private life as much as you or I. The notion that because he is a member of royalty his every action needs to be monitored and recorded in print or on film is flawed. Give him some space to let him live his life and let him do his job properly.

Good luck to Harry I say.

  • 72.
  • At 11:43 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • chris wrote:

I think that this was the right decision, but I think that there should be some time-limit on how long the public should be kept in the dark (except for things like hostage situations where the timing is out of the control of those requesting the agreement). Would the media have been happy if this went on for six-months or a year?

Also, I think that the media should be careful to ensure that the time scheduled for the eventual release of this information is not politically motivated, for example just before an Election or just when some enquiry is due to report.

  • 73.
  • At 11:44 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Shaun Harvey wrote:

An excellent decision by the British media ruined by journalists abroad wanting to make a quick buck. Do the public have any great need to know where the Prince is at any given time? And does that outweigh the value of the lives of Harry and our service personel in Afghanistan? Those that leaked the report obviously decided it does and are truely disgusting. All those critical of the decision i truely do not understand your logic? Is the country not allowed national secrets which safeguard the lives of our citizens?

  • 74.
  • At 11:48 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Kris wrote:

The thing I find most disturbing is that military operations are reported by the media at all. The press have no right to report where personnel are deployed, it simply increases the risk to our troops whose lives are already on the line. The MoD should not be making details of their operations available.

Are we so naive in this country that we forget foreign powers, even rebel groups, have access to the internet, satellite TV and radio?

  • 75.
  • At 11:49 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Rajini wrote:


Well done BBC! Not surprised at this restraint, though. The BBC has usually displayed such good ethics with its reporting.

  • 76.
  • At 11:49 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • David L wrote:

Fair play to the BBC (and the other media operations who respected the agreement) - a difficult situation, well handled.

But why the need for so much access? Especially during his deployment.

Meeting with him before and after seems legitimate enough, but three crews trailing after him in the course of a little over two months?

Why not have arranged for one crew and agreed to share the footage, and perhaps arrange for him to keep some kind of video diary.

If he wants to serve he should be let serve to the best of his ability with the absolute minimum of media interference.

  • 77.
  • At 11:49 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Brian Abbott wrote:

I fully support what you did.

I'm just amazed at the hoopla once the story had broken. The 6pm news - and that of ITV - were taken over by this on a day when there was plenty of other stuff to fill 30 minutes with. Overkill surely?

  • 78.
  • At 11:50 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Nick wrote:

It's amazing that the media could agree on anything let alone keeping such a sensitive issue secret so all credit to everyone involved. However, it's a pity that such tactics can't be employed more often rather than the frequent speculation that invades our news bulletins nowadays.

Whilst I admire Prince Harry's determination to carry out his full duties as a serving officer, I do feel that this has turned out to be something of a publicity exercise with the media continuing to follow him and preparing footage for the inevitable disclosure of the prince's deployment.

It would have been far preferable to allow him to serve in Afghanistan without any media intrusion whatsoever.

  • 79.
  • At 11:54 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ste Ellis wrote:

For once, well done to the British media. Absolutely the right decision, and there is no need to apologise in the slightest. To have made any other decision would have been highly irresponsible. I don't think any sane person (obviously excluding the type of idiot that cheers at British deaths) would have possibly wanted this reported till it was over.

A pity that Drudge idiot doesn't have the same respect for the service of our troops.

  • 80.
  • At 12:00 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • rob wrote:

I'm proud that the BBC has held its head high with honour along with the rest of the british media... shame on drudge report - if he's proud that he's risked every soldier in the british army.. and exposed an honourable man doing the honourable thing then perhaps he should consider wether all the fame and corruption he derides has finally gotten to him...

  • 81.
  • At 12:00 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Matthew Booth wrote:

This has restored some of my faith in the British media- the fact that an agreement held for 10 weeks on such a high profile story and that it wasn't the British media that broke the story is brilliant, responsible and, as a British citizen, appreciated.

  • 82.
  • At 12:01 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Chet wrote:

I believe that the UK media most certainly did the right thing.

I also believe that Matt Drudge, as usual, did the wrong thing. He is more interested in the scoop than the safety of many young fight men, including Prince Harry.

I would also note that it would be unfair to lump much of the American media together with Drudge. I am sure that many of our mainsream news outlets such as CBS, ABC, and NBC, etc. would have been quite content to keep this quiet until the Ministry of Defence said otherwise.


Staten Island, NY USA

  • 83.
  • At 12:04 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Sarah wrote:

I am quite proud of the way the media has handled this.

Harry is a person and he deserves his privacy as any other person has. He has always been scrutinised by the press and actually it bothers me that so much interest has been taken in him from such a young age.

As for being selfish, I disagree with this. Why should he not have the right to follow his chosen career? Royal or Not!

Bravo!

  • 84.
  • At 12:04 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Richard Spearman wrote:

An interesting contrast between the way Prince Harry was protected, and the treatment of his mother and father. For years the BBC and all other UK media, concealed the fact of Prince Charles' relationship with Camilla, which preceeded his marriage to Diana, and for the first few years of that marriage. I wonder what "national interest" the BBC and others used to justify this censorship? Freedom of the press in the UK is a complete myth.

  • 85.
  • At 12:07 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Shonali Goswami wrote:

Its actually amazing to know that the blackout lasted this long. There is some good in the media after all!!!!

I would however like to question Jon Williams' statement "there are no other "voluntary agreements" in place at the moment, there's nothing else we're not telling you." If there WERE an agreement in place, a black-out as it were, the BBC wouldn't really be in a position to "tell" us would it??

  • 86.
  • At 12:07 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • deat2ourMASTERS wrote:

Assure their safety. HA! Assure the lil princess safety. The real soldiers are at intense risk of losing their lifes securing somoelses money.

Assure their safety is to make sure they are deployed back. They shouldnt be there in the first place!

Next thing you know you be suppressing news because it might upset your granny!

  • 87.
  • At 12:09 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Caroline Anderson wrote:

Well done to the BBC. I am an American living in Britain and it sickens me the way the US media will respect nothing. The lives of many soldiers were at risk and Matt Drudge should be ashamed of himself. The release of that story defeats the purpose and minimizes the safety of every soldier deployed there by every Nation defending all of us against the Taleban. I am aware of all the sacrifices being made by members of NATO and to compromise that in any way is terribly disappointing to me. So, I thank the BBC for seeing the larger picture and doing a very honorable thing.

  • 88.
  • At 12:10 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • george wrote:

This was not restraint by the British media, they had their arms twisted, rightly so. There have been far too many leaks in the past, particularly in the tabloids, lepards do not change their spots.

As a journalist, I can understand what a tremendous decision it must've been to withhold this information. Professionally, I don't know if I would support such a decision without a full examination.

Personally, my face broke into a wide grin when I read the news of Harry's deployment. After the disappointment of being kept out of Iraq, it appears he was able to serve his country in Afghanistan.

Also, I find it extraordinary that the diverse and rancorous UK press (ranging from the Beeb to tabloids) kept the lid on the story for so long. It may be a long time before we see another unique arrangement of this nature.

  • 90.
  • At 12:12 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Michael F Bloomer wrote:

I think it was a very disgracefull for the American media , where I live , to have placed Harry Wales and his soldiers when he, as an officer, is responsible for, and is in fact charged with, their safety and well being.
Thank you BBC and others in the UK media for keeping the silence. The Taliban, by the by,read the internet.
And 'Well done" , Lt. Wales. In the southern US we have an apt saying "in lieu of a pay raise, here's 'a firm and hearty pat on the back'"

  • 91.
  • At 12:14 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Helen wrote:

Most people agree with the blackout. Most people wish that the media should embrace responsible reporting.

Perhaps there is hope, or perhaps the secret was kept because even the beeb wouldn't rish being the organisation responsible for Prince Harry's death... imagine the public backlash..!

Now, try and emulate this in many more cases, inject your stories with true fact not speculation/fake stats and stop catering for the lowest common denominator and you may get my respect back.

  • 92.
  • At 12:14 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Sean McPherson wrote:

No, it was not about the Prince's safety - or that of his colleagues - it was that after 5 months of negotiations the BBC and other Broadcasters would get their before, during and after shots.
Broadcasters continued to demonstrate incredible greed by effectively ruling out the Prince from serving until the MOD bowed to have the cameras stuck in.
The problem isn't the BBC, The Times or Reuters - it's the unremitting arrognance of the entire media culture to intrude on all those who didn't want to be in the limelight to start with.
It's a fine line between providing news and invading privacy - and understandably so - but is the public interest really to tell Mr and Mrs Smith with a mortgage and a life that Harry's gone to work.
I can't really understand the celebratory comments on this Blog - Congratualations on keeping other people's business out from eyes that have no right to pry in the first place?

In a journalists dog-eat-dog world it's the whole breed that needs to get smacked back in line.

  • 93.
  • At 12:15 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Pete wrote:

I have mixed feelings on this one. Obviously we need press freedom, but we also need certain military and police actions to not be jeopardised by this. As Prince Harry's deployment in Afghanistan would have caused an increased threat to his comrades if common knowledge, the British media were right to go along with this.

However, the who debacle brings spotlight to the fact that Prince Harry's need to somehow prove himself and fight on the front line is an act of stubborn selfishness. To put himself in a situation where his comrades may be in increased danger, and the press of his country have to lie to their entire audience in order to protect him and his regiment, simply for his own personal reasons, is ridiculous in the extreme.

This wasn't an important military operation that needed protection, just a very difficult situation caused by a member of the Royal household's personal whim. I understand his frustration at going through all the training and be unable to use it, and his need to prove he isn't above the dirty work, but at the end of the day national security should be more important than dealing with the angst of young Royals. He shouldn't have gone out there in the first place.

  • 94.
  • At 12:16 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ian wrote:

Praise to the British media for acting responsably in this matter and allowing Harry to serve his country as he wished and not endanger his or his troops lifes for a few minutes of news.
I notice a few comments saying the media shouldn't of kept this quiet, if you believe this then please print your full address and phone number in your post.
Since you believe it ok to endanger lives for your news entertainment and in the public good to do this surely you should stand by this and publish your own full details.

  • 95.
  • At 12:21 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • peter wrote:

You ve got to laugh at the arrogance and chutzpah of the BBC.OOh you thought long and hard on this one...you dont like to deceive the audience. HAHA. There are hundreds of things it doesnt report everyday. Its main skill is censoring. Anything that doesnt fit in with its Leftish marxist mindset is not reported. The news is only reported by the BBC if its politically correct.

  • 96.
  • At 12:21 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

With reference to Item 19 from Simon.
If you disagree with this blackout that is your opinion, to which people give you that right by sacrificing their lives. My personal opinion is you should serve there first and then comment. I applaud the UK press and media for there exemplary conduct in protecting the lives of our service personnel whilst Prince Harry was away on tour.
As to the gentlemen’s agreement in certain circumstances (which this is one) where lives are at risk, this is essential. From one serving soldier I thank you for your help and support in this matter. I would also like to thank the British public for their support over this matter as it does make an enormous difference to us who are serv

  • 97.
  • At 12:22 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Kath wrote:

My compliments to the BBC, and the British press in general, for responsible journalism. As an American, my apologies for dregs like Drudge - it's not be best we have to offer.
Kath

  • 98.
  • At 12:22 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Tiuri wrote:

I applaud the British media for their attitude in allowing this young man to do what he wanted to do, his duty !!
I regret that the tory has come to light in this and that he's now being recalled to the UK. It's areal shame.

  • 99.
  • At 12:22 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Andrea wrote:

I believe that in situations such as these a media blackout is a reasonable measure to help ensure that British soldiers (both Prince Harry and all the others also in Afghanistan) are not put in a position of more danger than they already have to contend with.

Its a shame that Prince Harry now having to return and is unable to fulfill his career as any other person would be able to.

  • 100.
  • At 12:23 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • MalayGhurka wrote:

Let the kid play soldier...no harm done.
It's in the genes anyway, the propensity to be empire-builder.

  • 101.
  • At 12:23 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Kate Brine wrote:

Could the BBC block all stories about celebrities, including the Royals, for ever now that would be public service broadcasting

  • 102.
  • At 12:24 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • jo wrote:

the real issue for Harry is the "friend " who blabbed - NOT the media

  • 103.
  • At 12:24 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • kate wrote:

As someone who works,day in and day out, with people diagnosed as "sociopathic" and "psychotic" I am left feeling quite disturbed by the comments of a few. They know who they are..they are the ones who are "disgusted" and "angered" by the media blackout. They are the ones who would have much preferred innocent people be targeted. They are the ones who see no problem in soldiers, already laying their lives on the line, being exposed to even further dangers. Maybe the draft isn't such a bad thing after all...lets just make sure that these people are the first ones sent to fight on the front lines and then don't complain if the media decide to pinpoint their locations to the Taliban - after all...the media would just be behaving like responsible journalists!!!

Good on the UK media...my faith in you and your sense of responsibility has been somewhat restored today!

  • 104.
  • At 12:27 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Beth wrote:

Shame on you Martin McNicoll. 'Very self-indulgent young man', I find it difficult to say the least to digest this comment when speaking about a man who is fighting for his country. A man with enough money to never work a day in his life, who knows that if discovered by an enemy he would probably be tortured and paraded around in the most sickening of ways, and has still gone to fight for us. I believe it is perhaps you who is self indulgent and frankly, misinformed.

  • 105.
  • At 12:28 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • roy wrote:

im amazed at the comments on here accusing the beeb of witholding further stories. there are hundreds of stories that fail to get any attention. its par for the course, just take the sad events unfolding in Jersey that were covered up for a generation.

if you think something needs questioning and investigation, get off your backside, do some digging around and let the world know. no point being cynical and smarmy expecting the bbc to spoon feed you.

  • 106.
  • At 12:32 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Chet wrote:

I believe that the UK media most certainly did the right thing.

I also believe that Matt Drudge, as usual, did the wrong thing. He is more interested in the scoop than the safety of many young fight men, including Prince Harry.

I would also note that it would be unfair to lump much of the American media together with Drudge. I am sure that many of our mainsream news outlets such as CBS, ABC, and NBC, etc. would have been quite content to keep this quiet until the Ministry of Defence said otherwise.

Chet
Staten Island, NY USA

  • 107.
  • At 12:32 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Paul C wrote:

This is big news - for once, the BBC and other UK media has done the correct and honourable thing.

However, why did it take five months for the BBC and UK media to agree to be honourable on this occasion.

No fault lies with foreign media not subject to the agreement, and not party to the protracted discussions. They simply did their job, and broke a big news story.

  • 108.
  • At 12:32 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Kim McK. wrote:

Well done the BBC and the rest of the British media - you have restored a considerable amount of my faith in you.

Well done the MoD for having the 'balls' and approaching the press, and of course really well done the press for going along with it.

The fact that the MoD had enough faith in the press to even ask the question says a lot to me.

Do it again, whenever needed, to protect people doing what they need to do for our country. Just tell us the full story afterwards and you have people's respect.

Thank you for your explanation Jon Williams.

  • 109.
  • At 12:32 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • christopher wrote:

how can you see anythin bar common sense and logical restraint. there are always conflicts within the areas of the press, the need to notify but also the need to protect the safety and other natural concerns of the people the story concerns. i dont see anyone complain about the fact that the press is limited in its reporting of crimes going to court in the near future out of fear that such reports may sway a jury. we accept that but look after out troops? oh no we cant be doing that, that would be madness.

hats off to the BBC and other british journalists. its great to see that they can support and protect members of the armed services in their own ways.

  • 110.
  • At 12:33 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Dave wrote:

As an ex-serviceman myself, I find the actions of the British Media here to be commendable to the highest level. It is not that different from the agreements that journalists reach with the MoD in order to be embedded in combat units. An agreement to be responsible in order to protect the lives of our servicemen who have agreed to put their lives on the line for their country in a way that no other occupation requires. Furthermore, Prince Harry insisting on being deployed like his fellow troops is commendable, and was the only option for him to retain the respect of his troops.

I would like to see those who criticise what has been done here send their children to war; and not expect to have everything done to try and bring them back safely at the end.

I have to finish up by saying that the way the media in the UK handles war correspondence is generally of the highest integrity, especially when compared with the US or other medias. A recent example of this is Ross Kemp's excellent Afghanistan reports.

  • 111.
  • At 12:34 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Gio Ramos/Manila, Philippines wrote:

I commend the British media for being responsible with the agreement that they had with the British Ministry of Defence. I just cannot think why the American trash website did not. One thing's for sure now: have the Prince get out of the at the soonest possible time.

  • 112.
  • At 12:34 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Olivia wrote:

I think that you did the right thing in firstly scrutinising the blackout proposal (any such request should not be taken likely - the integrity of our democracy depends on it), realising that the general interest had more to gain than lose from such an agreement, honouring it for as long as it was, and then now, explaining in candid terms, how the process was conducted - in my mind, it was exemplary press conduct! It is sad that it did not last any longer, but it reflects very badly on the publications that broke it, and very highly on those who managed it in a balanced, relatively alturistic manner. Well done the press! And well done Harry for fighting for us!

  • 113.
  • At 12:34 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Bob G wrote:

Reporting this story would have endangered British Army lives - that a royal was one of them is in my mind irrelevant. The UK media have acted responisbly, sensibly and honourably in protecting lives.

It angers me greatly that the Drudge Report would publish this, and endanger lives purely for their own smug self gratification and no doubt financial gain. How is that different from drink-driving, or any other reckless activity? The public is not served in publishing this - what do we gain from knowing he's out there? We could have found out when he returned from his tour of duty.

  • 114.
  • At 12:35 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • David Lamb wrote:

It is a non-sense that Harry has gone to war at all - Iraq Afghanistan or anywhere. Kings and princes used to fight in wars because they were leading their country or clan - they were the leaders, they chose their strategies for war, and they needed to be seen to lead. Today our princes are high status icons and symbolic but with low leadership roles - there is no need for them to be in wars. In fact it is the height of stupidity firstly to place such high status 'items' in jeopardy with nothing to gain from it, and secondly to invite increased hostility from the 'enemy' towards our soldiers.
I am a republican but still don't want my country to be so stupid as to spill the blood of its own figurehead. But nor do I want strategic military efforts in my name compromised by out-dated and false images of empire, glory, and heroics. What we are seeing is a game for the royals' PR (or was this a put up by Hollywood).

  • 115.
  • At 12:38 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Alex Hunter wrote:

Hooray for the British media.......three cheers! Excuse me but what a ridiculous, self congratulatory exercise this is. And how reassured I am from the BBC that there are no other "voluntary agreements" in force, I lie awake at night worrying about these things. I for one trust you Jon. And how dare Johnny Foreigner stick his oar in and spoil it for you all! It's a pity you don't show some self editing when it comes to the rubbish being spouted on the BBC news website these days. Do people seriously think that the Taleban are stupid enough not to know that the third in line to the British throne is with his unit and deployed in their country. They only need to check the takings at some of Londons hotter nightspots to realise that he's not in Britain.

  • 116.
  • At 12:39 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Stuart Sheldon wrote:

I must say that, as an American, I am saddened (but not surprised) that is was a US news agency that leaked the story. It seems that the only thing newsworthy over here anymore is the latest celebrity gossip.
Bravo to the BBC and other British news agencies for agreeing to this and not adding to the danger he and his unit would face.

  • 117.
  • At 12:43 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • gerald wrote:

"there's nothing else we're not telling you"...The Media Controls the World! It's gotten to the point where editors and the military decide what we're told or not. Scary!

  • 118.
  • At 12:45 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Alicia C wrote:

I had to think about this one, but I'm glad the press agreed to the blackout. I don't agree with war from a moral standpoint, but adding more danger to an already tense situation doesn't help anyone.

I agree with the many who think the media go too far. I hope those of you generalizing this incident to all Americans would rethink your stance--some of us DON'T appreciate the media's digging into every manner of story they can find. Freedom of information's a great thing, but when it infringes harmfully on the privacy of a person it's sometimes going too far.

  • 119.
  • At 12:46 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • sophie wrote:

i have to say, all those people that did not agree with the blackout, what are you thinking! you are saying that its ok to put Harry's life and many others for that matter at risk all becuase you want to know the story. the BBC,and all other British broadcasters have proved that we care about our people and they receive complaints about it. well done to those who actually care!

  • 120.
  • At 12:46 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Seth wrote:

VERY DISAPPOINTED!!! Journalists have an obligation to inform the people about every aspect of the world and its "going ons." If you are willing to keep this story secret, what about other stories the public has a right to know but your judgement will not allow us to hear? Let the people do the deciding not governemrnts and media or cooperations between the two.

  • 121.
  • At 12:47 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

Collusion between the government and the media as to what the public need to be told is not a free media. Shall we change the name of the BBC to Pravda?

  • 122.
  • At 12:48 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • GarethJones wrote:

The BBC and other news organisations has colluded with MOD and the British government to keep this from the public eye. The kidnapping embargo is well justified but is no excuse for keeping the fact that Harry is out and about
fighting in Afghanistan. Harry made a choice to join the army and the army accepted him as an officer, this did not give him or the army the right to news blackouts even if voluntary.Harry could have chosen any number or careers
which are worthy and would not have put colleagues at risk, such as NGO's that work with the sick and poor.

Was there a news embargo in Afghanistan as well? I don't think so and It could have easily leaked from a number of people from within Afghanistan to the taleban or any group that would like to take a pop at him.

I am very concerned that collusion has take place and I hope that the BBC as a responsible news organisation will reflect on this action and not do anything like this in the future. You have the benefit of the doubt in this case but please don't do anything like this again

  • 123.
  • At 12:49 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Lancs wrote:

I absolutely agree with all the positive comments. If people have to face war at all then we should make them as safe as possible in the process. A big thank you to the British media for their support of our armed forces.

  • 124.
  • At 12:49 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • William O'Brien wrote:

Good job - interesting stuff.
I'm not a Royal fan but I have some respect for this young man and the men serving with him. Well done UK press.

  • 125.
  • At 12:52 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Roz wrote:

As with so many here I just have to say that for once my estimation of the British media has gone up. I do really feel that the news blackout was the way forward with this - unfortunately in today's world the actions of people in the media spotlight are always reported on. However in this case the decision was made correctly that to report on this would be to endanger others. And even when it did come out you consulted the MoD before reporting on it.

I have a lot of respect for a young man who wants to serve his country in the way he has been trained to - just like every other man and woman in the Armed Services. Last night I was pleased to here that he had been able to do so - and the fact that the blackout held for 10 weeks has restored some of my faith in the media in this country.

  • 126.
  • At 12:52 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Laura wrote:

I think the British media have definitely done the right thing (for once). It's just typical that it was the Americans who broke the story - they obviously have no regard for the safety of the British soldiers over there, but they harp on about their own.

Prince Harry is just doing what he was trained to do - what is the point of him being in the military if he's not going to fight for his country? I think the understanding that was reached was beneficial for all parties involved, but most importantly for the safety of those serving with Harry.

I think the people that are commenting on here about how it would have been reported if Harry had been wounded have completely missed the point. If that was the case, then the media would have had the best access to the 'story' and would have explained the reasons behind the blackout and I am pretty sure that the British public would have understood. We aren't usually informed of all military operations and personnel, so why should Harry be any different?

To quote the article, 'there's nothing else we're not telling you' - to be honest I don't believe that for a second. There are probably many things that we're not being told - at least half of which, we probably don't need to be told. The media in this country hinder many investigations and they really should have more respect sometimes.

  • 127.
  • At 12:53 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Kristo wrote:

I do not think this is a right thing to do. Prince has to acknowledge that he is no ordinary citizen and he cannot do things they do. So called "agreement" violates the peoples right to know, good work Drudge Report.
I read BBC every day, this kind of case is certainly a bad news and makes BBC not credible for me. What else they've been holding back?

  • 128.
  • At 12:54 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Helen C-W wrote:

Bravo to the BBC and other organisations who upheld this gentlemens agreement.

Prince Harry is, at the end of the day, a soldier. He has had to prove that he is capable, and has certain responsibilities.

The media also have responsibilities. One of those must surely be that they will not do anything to endanger the lives of people.

The soldiers are risking their lives - a decision not taken lightly - to fight a war you may or may not agree with. By keeping the blackout in place you helped avoid unneccesary risk.

We don't need to know everything. Sometimes its better for us not to know.


Oh and Simon - Message 19 - Get over yourself.

  • 129.
  • At 12:57 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • frank jasper wrote:

well done beeb!

  • 130.
  • At 12:58 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • David Reid wrote:

Several comments from obviously American readers were negative, but they should remember that one of their own Supreme Court Justices made the point about Free Speech that it is not to be exercised without considerations of the other rights of other individuals, and this Justice made the analogy of yelling "Fire" for the fun of it in a crowded theatre/theater when people might get trampled in panic. The BBC was acting in this spirit of restraint.

  • 131.
  • At 12:59 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Megan Heather wrote:

Let's not become moist-eyed about the British media; if there is anything viler than the political animal, that specimen is the news hound. The journo shoves microphones into the faces of bereaved parents, torments ordinary poeple, wallows in the salacious details of female rape and murder and pretends that we require him to do all this in the name of freedom of information. When not hounding largely decent though imperfect public servants out of office, he can be found selling his granny on street corners; he never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. How amusing it is to see the hack in a state of moral outrage. Now he knows how the rest of us feel.

Had the British press announced Harry's intention to go the Afghanistan, it would never have happened; ergo no story. Any arrangement for a news blackout would, I'm sure, have involved exclusive rights to the story when the prince returned from duty. The longer he stayed there, the better the copy; real fighting, bomb attacks, possible injury/death, acres of psychobabble, thousands of pictures, fascinating details of his lavatorial habits, interviews with his comrades, the ritual trivialisation we have become inured to...

I love the notion that Johnny- foreigner press has put Blighty in danger. I get a strong whiff of sour grapes, of journalistic in-fighting! Do we know the nationality of the "traitor" who broke the story via the foreign media - not an impatient Brit, I'm sure!

If royals take jobs, we accuse them of playing at it, of having neither aptitude nor vocation; if they don't work, we regard them as parasites. Prince Harry is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't and perhaps there is some justice in making life difficult for the filthy rich and privileged. Let's not, though, delude ourselves that much of the media is anymore truly useful and important than he is.

  • 132.
  • At 01:00 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Samantha wrote:

Thank goodness the British media had some sense. I don't agree that it should have been even a remotley difficult decision though. Do we willingly endanger the lives of our Prince and hundreds of innocent lives for the sake of spreading this relativley minor news story (the prince doing his job) or not? I'm just so glad that at least the British Media kept to this simple and logical agreement, maybe there is hope for them yet. Regretably the same cannot be said for the foolish site that released this information, isn't willingly endangering lives for monetary gain traditional thought of to be criminal?

  • 133.
  • At 01:02 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Alastair Carr wrote:

I think you should have not given this out, even if other broadcasting companies had, because I would not have known about this, and most people in England would not have as well, incl;uding some terrorists in this country.

  • 134.
  • At 01:03 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Almir Mumovic wrote:

Well done to the British press, for once you have shown restraint and you should be collectivly applauded.

As for the Bild and the Drudge media organisations what a disgrace.

To some of the posters who have attacked either Prince Harry or the BBC, I say to you go and crawl back under your rock.

  • 135.
  • At 01:04 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Emma wrote:

I said all along that this is what the MoD should do-send him somewhere and not tell anyone where.

As for people saying that they don't trust the BBC any more or think this was the wrong thing to do-how would you feel if you knew that your son/daughter/brother/sister/friend was fighting near a prince and that the enemy knew exactly where he was and so would be likely to target that area?!

If only we could teach Drudge some common sense and morals!

  • 136.
  • At 01:05 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ian wrote:

Lamentable...for the media to position themselves as responsible!
Making deals to ensure access to the Prince demonstrates that your actions are simply self-serving, and being cynical, how can we be sure that the British media didn't leak the story to their foreign counterparts (once they had harvested their sound-bites)to circumvent the agreement?
So easy to blame "foreigners" and then try to look blameless yourselves; then once the "cat was out of the bag" you glibly "blanket-bomb" every channel of news communication with "up close and personal" coverage of the Prince in the mistaken belief that the public actual cares about the story.
The real point is that the media does not "own celebrities" and whilst you pretend that your actions are all taken in the name of free speech and the "public's "right-to-know", most of the time your just trying to earn an extra buck with scant regard for anything or anyone else.
Like I said, lamentable!

PS I want to see if you publish this....

  • 137.
  • At 01:05 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Michele Molinari, Mr. wrote:

Excellent. Well done BBC and all British Media. Thank you. I'm Italian and I wish my country's media would behave like this.

  • 138.
  • At 01:06 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Michael wrote:

Hmm, whats the story here. Harry abroad serving his country or the blackout. It seems the BBC (and UK journalism) is patting itself on the back that it kept a secret so long. Is that something to be proud of - journalists embedded to an individual rather than his regiment, or reporting on a unpopular war. A potent mix of politics and journalism, that does favors for the establishment, so not to do its job in return for interviews. The whole thing doesnt sit right

  • 139.
  • At 01:07 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Kathleen Mara Upstate NY, USA wrote:

The BBC is and other media in the UK is to be highly commended. I now have a great deal of respect for you and understand why the BBC news is the ONLY news my son, Tim will listen to!

I am ashamed and repulsed by the Drudge Reports report. It served no good purpose. It merely confirmed "gossip" then left Prince Harry and his unit completely vulnerable to further attacks and danger, as if they weren't in enough now. Please know that all DECENT Americans will feel the same way!

I admire the royal family's commitment to their military by serving. I always have. Unfortunately, you don't see our presidents children EVER go to war. If Bush truly believed in the "mission" he sent our children,spouses & siblings out to complete...His daughters would be there fighting the war just as Prince Harry is. Sadly, the American media is now responsible for the need to bring Harry home. I apologize for our media's stupidity and lack of honor and compassion.

May God bless Prince Harry and bring him and his unit home safely.

  • 140.
  • At 01:08 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Karin wrote:

At last some common sense.
In this type of situation the right thing to do was to respect the privacy of Harry.
He and his family have shown that he is no different than anyone else's son / daughter and signed up to do a job. Regardless of our personal feelings about the 'war on terror' our soldiers deserve to be supported, no matter their rank in life.
It is completely irresponsible of the foreign media to release this information.

  • 141.
  • At 01:10 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mr P, wrote:

Why not just say no to the agreement - you wouldnt have been putting the guy at risk because he simply wouldn't have gone!

  • 142.
  • At 01:11 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Melissa Davies wrote:

I'm delighted to discover the British media can keep things quiet when the necessity arises. I only wish it happened more often and that they realised the world does not NEED to know everything, especially when the release of information threatens the lives of others. I am astounded that controls haven't been tightened before now - so much has been leaked that must surely have had a direct impact on the outcome of situations the world over, and not just at war.

It's about time the media enjoyed taking this kind of responsibility.

  • 143.
  • At 01:11 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • alex wrote:

Well done to the British media. Lives were at risk and you did the right thing. I can't see why people are complaining about this agreement, it's completely illogical. Nobody has been harmed by it. Why is it wrong?

  • 144.
  • At 01:11 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • William J. Glaister wrote:

Unfortunately, Matt Drudge does not originate material, he gets it from others.
Thus, a soldier(unlikely), a royal(also unlikely), or a journalist sworn to secrecy was the source.
I hope the leaker is exposed by his colleagues.
Bill G.
Ottawa

  • 145.
  • At 01:12 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • NIck Sharp wrote:

Is anyone going after the editor of the Drudge Report to find out why he/she ran the story?

Or is it all just a game to you media guys, and you can't see what the fuss is about?

  • 146.
  • At 01:13 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • tony tree wrote:

Maybe the BBC could devote a equal air time to the innocent victims of the Afghanistan war as they have to the "photo opportunities' given by the MOD of Harry Wales on active service.

  • 147.
  • At 01:17 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • stuart wrote:

thankyou for not mentioning it in the press. I believe its not relevant and also would have jeopardised his life. Thankyou for making a good decision on this issue.

  • 148.
  • At 01:18 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Matt Morris wrote:

What I think is a shame is the people who say it's an "establishment cover-up" or the BBC/other news organisations toeing the establishment line - what a load of self-serving dross - shame on you!!

The press did what was right - they didn't want to increase the risks to either Harry or his comrades in a situation that is already perilous enough!!

What would you rather happen? That those brave personnel out there get targeted further in the name of a you knowing and impartiality? If you do - could you live with knowing that would have costs lives?

Harry should be allowed to serve without all this fuss and it's a pity he can't. But at least the press in the UK have used common sense and restraint so Harry and his colleagues can do the job their trained to do -- long may they do so!!

  • 149.
  • At 01:19 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ally wrote:

Well done to the British media in showing great restraint - rare, but applaudable. Thank you for your candid explanation.

  • 150.
  • At 01:20 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Lilo wrote:

Well Done - BBC and other news agencies. Why are the whereabouts of a 23 year old young man news. What good does it serve your country , or the world to chase him down and report on every action of a fairly normal youmg man. A young man that said that he went to war to be treated normal. It isnt he or his comrades that have made his treatment an issue it is media, particualrly the US media. That is an interesting aspect since this is occuring at the same time as SECDEF Gates is declaring that other NATO countries are not pulling their weight in Afghanistan. Well, if US media makes it dangerous for individuals and their units to serve, then we can't expect those countries to offer up more young people as cannon fodder. How would the US react if media followed the sons of John McCain, Jim Webb, and the few others that have children serving, adding danger to the individual and those they serve with.

  • 151.
  • At 01:20 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Conned UKpublicagain wrote:

what a propaganda story, the UK public made to look a fool again.
No you cannot go,.I want to go Mummy please make them let me,..oh ok then.
Oh look what they have now gone and done, the security people have snitched on me to get me out

Err PARDON ME?
But isn't the whole point and idea of the British army being their IS TO FLUSH OUT THE TALIBAN to finish them off?
If Harry is the decoy, then wonderful. Does this mean yet another 5 years wasted Taxpayers money for a holiday camp jaunt

  • 152.
  • At 01:23 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Michelle wrote:

I'm just curious about those that would disagree with the blackout? What is so important about the story that you would feel deceived by the blackout. It doesn't affect you, your family, your way of life, etc. It would really only have been an interest (re: gossip) piece anyway. I think the lines between NEED to know and WANT to know are too often blurred in todays global media.

  • 153.
  • At 01:23 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Randy Phillips wrote:

Kudos to the British media for behaving so responsibly. I only wish the media in the USA were so thoughtful and responsible. My respect for the BBC and other newsmedia in Britain (which was always high), has grown even more.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, my sincere thanks, congratulations, and highest respect to Price Harry. He is showing himself to be a true leader and deserving of the title "Prince". Your entire nation is rightly very proud of him. One hell of a guy......

An American neighbor and friend.

  • 154.
  • At 01:25 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Fran wrote:

Looking away for a moment on the issue of if the BBC should or shouldn't have kept the blackout:

Could have the leaking yesterday could have been avoided?

New Idea first published the story on January 7th (and the Drudge Report yesterday cited the New Idea as its source along with Bild). New Idea claim that not only were they unaware of the blackout, that the MOD has not been in touch at all since they posted the story.

If the MOD had told New Idea back in January to take the story down as there was a media-blackout would it have meant that The Drudge would have not had it as a source and hence not published the story yesterday?

Unless the MOD were unaware of New Idea?

  • 155.
  • At 01:26 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Rob wrote:

There are only two groups in the UK for whom consideration of our Armed Services is inconsequential. The MOD and the media. The MOD's carelessness and disregard is evidenced in the numerous and repeated failures in logistics and support, this disregard is intensified when servicemen are injured, as is shown by the poor levels of continued care when they are returned to the UK. Only the Media comes close in their indifference to the real risks that Servicemen face. The search for "the truth or the story" is held aloft as a banner that excuses all ills and stupdities. The latest publicity storm about Prince Harry is a case in point. He wants to be a soldier doing a soldiers job - who cares where he is based? Who cares what he is doing above and beyond the fact that he is working as a soldier? Once again idiocy about getting the story out, means that any serviceman british or not faces an increased risk, simply on the off-chance that PH might be in a group of soldiers that the taleban choose to attack. A desire by media organisations to "show" they are in the loop by publishing such stories leads to circumstances similar to the revelation shortly before 9/11 that US intelligence had Osama's satellite phone number and were listening in. Surprise, surprise, he stopped using it the day the story was published!! An incalculable loss of intelligence, and an absolutely stupid and avoidable result. Events shortly thereafter proved how "important" it was to get that story out......

  • 156.
  • At 01:26 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Richard Wells wrote:

I'm shocked but very happy at the way the press and military have handled this. It is a shame that the story was leaked, but I suppose it was bound to happen at some point.

Now if only the press could show similar restraint more often and let the government and military get on with their jobs unhindered.

  • 157.
  • At 01:28 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Rich wrote:

Freedom of the press means they can choose to follow their conscience - on occasion - and NOT report things that would do far more harm than good.

Nice to see they are able to do this and no apology needed at all.

  • 158.
  • At 01:30 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Alistair wrote:

The British media were right to do this, to protect Harry's comrades if nothing else.

Media also relate to the effects of their work as "stories". Surely a full piece on his time on tour, once he returned, would have been a much better read and viewing than the instant "look I'm clever" gratification of those just reporting that he is in Afghanistan.

Well done the British Media. Shame on the Australian rag No Idea and the Drudge Report.

  • 159.
  • At 01:32 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Diane, Sutton wrote:

I approve. However I note that the Press sheathed its claws so that this young man could have a go at the job he wanted: would that the rest of us could have our wishes so carefully respected, as the Press seems mainly to be interested in destroying people.

  • 160.
  • At 01:32 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • chino wrote:

Many people are praising the British media for their restraint, but lets not forget that they had to be bribed with exclusive access to Harry before and during his deployment in order to keep them quiet.

And now the blackout is over, restraint has gone out the window of course. Harry is still in Afghanistan, but the BBC and other outlets are happy to publish plenty of material showing him on active service. That should make the job of the military getting him out a lot easier, shouldn't it?

  • 161.
  • At 01:35 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Sarah Hickerson wrote:

It was NOT the US media that broke this story. It was a US website - a news story clearing house - quoting stories published in the Australian and German press.

But the vitriol towards Americans on this thread demonstrates a good job, well done - a PR coup for the MoD, the Royal Family and the British media, all at the hands of dastardly Americans.

You people are sleepwalking.

  • 162.
  • At 01:35 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Robert Petrus wrote:

I would like to raise the following question: if the BBC was asked by Al Qaida not to report on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden who himself would like to enter the warscene in Afghanistan for a few weeks, would this request be rewarded? Most probably not, despite the fact that it would put this individual, the soldiers fighting on his side and civilians on the ground in great danger because of his media-profile.
By making a deal with the British MoD, the BBC has clearly chosen sides in this case and showed its international audience that national interests in some cases prevail over unbiased reporting.
With this you have lost a lot of respect and trust worldwide.

  • 163.
  • At 01:35 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ivana Doritsch wrote:

But look at international reactions - don't agreements undermine greatly Harry?

Transparent ethical reporting!? So underhandedness is cool in Drudge's ethical basis - Ivan Doritsch

  • 164.
  • At 01:35 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Iain wrote:

Great! We help the Yanks out in their pointless posturing and enter a ridiculous and unwinnable war against an idea, suffer hundreds of casualties - often from the gung ho American forces in 'friendly fire' incidents, and this is how we're repaid. You never have to look far for the seamy underbelly of the media to expose itself. I am deeply cynical about the 'leak' as well, and would not be at all surprised to learn that its origin was from our own media.

  • 165.
  • At 01:40 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Kat wrote:

First of all I would like to address two comments that have been made above.

Comment 20 by Martin McNichol made the accusation that the media were indulging "the wishes of what already seems to be a very self-indulgent young man". Excuse me Mr McNichol but since when do self-indulgent men (and women for that matter) join the military knowing that they are putting their lives on the line?? Are you therefore going to label every member of the military as self-indulgent just because they want to serve their country? I suggest that you find a dictionary and read the defination of self-indulgent so that you may correct yourself.

I also think for those of you who laid blame solely at the feet of the American media (and they are at fault here) might want to also blame the German and Australian media. I am Australian and I've been reading about this all day. The Drudge report said it got its information from the Australian New Idea magazine and the German Bild. Further to that, lay blame also at the feet of some "close friend" of Harry's who said that they were at the farewell dinner for Harry and who blabbed instead of keeping their mouth shut. This is just my suggestion but I would be opening an investigation or inquiry to find out who blabbed and why, comprimising the security of Harry and his men.

I commend the editor for his remarks and maybe now out of all this mess the international media (you're all as bad as one another) may learn to show some tact, responsibility, compassion and integrity. Maybe we can all see an end to stupid tabloid gutter journalism. Give us stories that are real and that we can get our teeth into, that make the world a truly better place. That is probably an idealistic and simple view of things, but do we really need to know every detail of celebrity and the monarchy when there are far more important stories affecting peoples lives?

I just feel sorry for Harry and the men he commands. Their lives were put in added danger because someone comprimised security. There is no way that he can be left in Afghanistan now as he would be too much of a target. I'm not a monarchist, but I really would hate to see the enemy torturing him as they've done to others.

I can also imagine how incredibly angry Harry must be right now as well as disappointed and frustrated.

Those of you who want to criticise the media and say they shouldn't have agreed to a black out. Which do you prefer? Stories of Harry that make you proud or stories that make you ashamed when he does his "wild child" act. Just think for a moment and consider that all he wanted was to do the job he was trained to do. What will he do now that he can't? Become a lazy young man indulgent to the lifestyle the he seems somewhat reluctant to have?

  • 166.
  • At 01:43 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ted Beest wrote:

What story, this piece of Kriegs-propaganda?
How stupid do you think that the viewers are?
Leni Riefenstahl would be proud...

  • 167.
  • At 01:48 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Bernard wrote:

The enemy now know that journalists are no longer neutral war correspondants. They know British reporters are working for the army. Well done BBC, you have turned them into targets.

I hope I am wrong in what I have just written.

  • 168.
  • At 01:48 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Charlie wrote:

Haha I knew Harry was in Afghanistan as I know someone who works for a UK news agency. However I didn't tell anyone as I don't care, and I forgot. Just as well I'm not a member of the Taleban!

  • 169.
  • At 01:49 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Kate wrote:

I think that the media did exactly the right thing. I just have one question for all those people that think that we should have been told straight away - why? Surely, apart from his family and friends, no-one had a "right" to know. Those people that insist that it should have been reported straight away are basically saying that their need for celebrity gossip is so severe that they need to know where everyone is all of the time.

  • 170.
  • At 01:51 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Si_W wrote:

P.Thurman - # 32

If you really feel that you are fed up of being spoonfed non-news and you know of any important issues that need investigating and reporting, I have one suggestion.

Get a notepad and go investigate.

  • 171.
  • At 01:51 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Leslie Bedell wrote:

It seems that only a small minority express some disquiet about this departure from frank reporting which is also disturbing. I cannot feel confident that there are no other secret agreements between the media and government agencies.

  • 172.
  • At 01:52 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ed wrote:

Just to add my voice to chorus of approval for the restraint in not reporting, and to add my name to the list who wish the Drudge report had had the decency to do likewise.

  • 173.
  • At 01:52 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • james gordon wrote:

"We don't do this stuff lightly - there are no other "voluntary agreements" in place at the moment, there's nothing else we're not telling you."
Um, if you were keeping more secrets, what would you say? The same thing of course.

"But this was never just about Prince Harry's safety, it was also about the security of the soldiers serving with him. No editor wants to be responsible for increasing the risk they already face from the Taleban."
War zones are dangerous places. Especially with Princes in them. I would have thought the army/Prince Harry were more responsible for the situation. Are there any other subjects you don't report on as you don't wish to rock the boat? Perhaps if you didn't report on the war at all, or even printed misleading stories, you could lessen the risk to our troops.

I'm pretty angry. Thing is I do like Prince Harry and all, and think he's brave and all that. I think all the soldiers out there are brave. Lots of heroic boys are coming back with shattered spines and lost limbs you know. It's not a game.

The entire army and press are indulging somebody's boys own adventure. It's sort of sentimental and romantic and patriotic and pukey.

The best thing that can come out of this is to get some more people joining up I suppose.

But I think your job is to tell me the truth about things. It's the armies job to keep the soldiers safe.

And win the war.

By capturing the castle and getting the magic key before the wicked taleban get it.

Or whatever the goal is of the whole fiasco.

Take care soldiers.

  • 174.
  • At 01:53 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • CLIVE LINDLEY wrote:

The mystery to me is what mystery was it that was revealed by Drudge?

Surely everybody knew that the Prince was serving in Afghanistan, and that the Brits are operating in Helmsland?

We followed the argument in all the media: could he go, or not? Answer, Yes!

We saw pix of him pre- training for this posting in Cyprus.

Wasn't it universally known, probably even by the Taleban?

What then was there to reveal?

  • 175.
  • At 01:54 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Adam Christie wrote:

Your reporting of the Prince Harry leak is utterly incorrect! Does no one check stories any more? Even the Drudge report note the story was broken by Australian "womens" mag 'New Idea' on the 7th January - Bad Reporting BBC

  • 176.
  • At 01:56 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • jez lawrence wrote:

Well done BBC for sticking to this blackout. it is NOT just about protecting some priviledged royal, and I get the impression that people who think it is are just generally anti royal, seeing them as somehow deserving of ill treatment. Harry had no control over his birth. he did not *have* to go into military service, unlike his brother who as future heir does need to serve time. Therefore, he should be seen just like any other soldier - in fact given his background its downright herioc that he would choose to risk that pampered existance to fight for his nation - for us, the British people, and for the ordinary citizens of Afghanistan (whether they appreciate it or not is a different issue). Secrecy around military operations, deployments and individual soldiers is nothing new. We keep the names of the SAS secret. We generally don't name other soldiers serving without their permission, and I don't see that it should matter that we know if or where Harry is stationed. The only reason an agreement was necessary was because the media see the royals as a cash cow and so if not restrained (albeit with promises of exclusive access, the only really sordid part of the affair in my opinion) would have done anything to turn the deployment into a self generating scoop.

This is not a question of free speech, its a question of public interest - its NOT in the public interest to know where every member of the royal family is at all times. Unless the military is acting without authorisation or mandate, it is NOT in the public interest to disclose the location of active military assets, be it ordinary soldiers, officers, whole regiments, tanks or the catering staff.

So I say again - well done BBC for the blackout, although shame on you for requiring fringe benefits as part of the deal, and anyone who opposes the blackout ought to think about whether they oppose any and all newsblackouts or just those on the royal family, and if the latter, which they would prefer - Royals who actually don't do anything but are always in the spotlight, or Royals who feel it their duty to give something back to their country in return for their privilege. I know which I'd prefer - I can honestly say, speaking as someone generally ashamed of our country's actions over the last few years, the idea of a crown prince leading soldiers into battle stirs more national pride in me that any number of smiling politicians emptily promising action on climate change or foreign policy.

go harry!

  • 177.
  • At 01:57 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Michael Winston wrote:

Logically, to maximise safety, the media should therefore not report troop movements or activities at all. Or do we value this Prince's life above that of any other soldier's?

If so, why?

I look forward to a deluge of outraged replies from the more fawning and subservient members of our 'society'. You know the sort - incapable of independent thought or critical analysis; the ones that read The Mail and swear by every word. Only boot lickers need apply.

  • 178.
  • At 02:01 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Amorette wrote:

Finally, some people do realise after all that there are things more important than freedom of this and freedom of that. Now why don't we show some respect to the Muslims and stop publishing and re-publishing those Muhammad cartoons in the name of freedom? Because respecting a billion people's feelings is not important at all compared to the safety of one prince?

  • 179.
  • At 02:03 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Jacky wrote:

I don't think that this agreement was anything to apologise for. Others may describe me as naive or foolish, but I am willing to trust the BBC to report on all news in an independent manner. I am also willing to trust it's management to make decisions when not to report on an otherwise interesting (to some) story. The safety of the British troops in Afghanistan is more important than bringing up to date news about a member of the royal family to a gossip-hungry world.

  • 180.
  • At 02:03 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • George wrote:

From what I've read, the BBC, other broadcasters and media, were ASKED by the MoD if they were prepared to enter into a VOLUNTARY agreement. They were NOT obliged to do so. They could just say no and report it, so all this about collusion is just rubbish. As for Drudge... it just shows the respect he shows for the safety of the fighting men and women not only in Afghanistan, but Iraq also.

  • 181.
  • At 02:04 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mark Braithwaite wrote:

How sad that an American blogger has to point out the ludicrous inadequacies of the British media in this fashion.

If trivial royal family escapades are deemed Newsworthy by the BBC (Harry's Nazi uniform prank) then you have a duty to inform us of other things this family get up to, like fighting in wars.

Self-censorship is the most odious failure of journalistic integrity.

  • 182.
  • At 02:05 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Jenny wrote:

I must say i am disappointed at the attitude of some people towards the media blackout. It has taken time and money to train Prince Harry and what kind of example would be being set if he was unable to put all his training into action with the rest of our soldiers. He deserves his chance to "fight" for his country, our country, and I can think of no better way for a member of the royal family to show they are one of us ad value the role they play in the UK as a whole. A media blackout was clearly vital to let he and his regiment do their job without putting them in anymore danger than they already face. Yes we may have been fooled but whether the Prince is fighting or not won't affect my life nor many others but it was for a worthy cause. Yesterday was a day to feel proud to be British - our media managed to do the right thing and put the safety of soldiers above getting a good headline and we saw Prince Harry being a true British soldier.

  • 183.
  • At 02:05 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Keith wrote:

I completely agree with the BBC, and well done to all the British media for finally acting with restraint for the good of people, rather than trying to exploit the worse. It would be interesting to know if places like the Sun and the Mirror had this information also?

Some of the people who are commenting here that you're hypocritical don't really get the point. When the issue of someone's personal safety (especially someone in such high profile) is at risk, then a blackout is entirely the correct thing to do.

Maybe the media should look at the response they have from this, and report more respectfully in the future. And less celeb gossip please. Thanks!

  • 184.
  • At 02:06 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mary McCannon wrote:

I wish to thank all in the British media for keeping their promise. Helmand province is dangerous enough, so extra attention is the last thing our soldiers need.
As for Prince Harry, I feel sorry that he has to come home alone, not with his regiment. His first tour of duty might have a bitter-sweet ending, yet, he made many everyday Britons proud. Well done Harry!

  • 185.
  • At 02:08 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • John D Traynor wrote:

It's an absolute disgrace that the BBC, and the rest of the British media, refused to report the news of the member of the royal family being part of the British occupying force in Afghanistan.

The illegal occupation of Afghanistan by British and US military needs to be reported in full.

Further, both the Britsh military and the royal family are funded entirely by British tax payers, as is the BBC via the licence fee.

I demand to know everything that the British military are up to, all their deeds and activities. And, I demand to know everything that the British royal family are up to.

The publicly-funded BBC has lied to the British public about the activities of the publicly-funded British military and the publicly-funded British royal family.

  • 186.
  • At 02:09 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Diego wrote:

Bravo for the British Media! And bravo for Prince Harry! He is not afraid of being what he is, a Soldier.

  • 187.
  • At 02:09 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Lynne wrote:

I think it was the right thing to do and applaud the BBc and other UK agencies for doing the right thing. Prince Harry and those proudly serving our country by his side have the right not be placed in further danger by irresponsible jounalism.

With regards to Martin McNicols comment (post no 20),where he has referred to Prince Harry as self indugent demonstrates everything that is wrong with this country. He goes to war and serves his country as thousands of our sons, brothers and fathers do and gets called self indulgent, he doesnt go to war he is spoilt, he really can't win.

I would very much like to see Mr McNicol go to Afghanistan and tell our troops what he thinks, I very much doubt it would be the Taliban in the firing line.

  • 188.
  • At 02:10 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Susan Cook wrote:

I have to say that I am pleased that common sense was used to keep this quiet. I do question the right to know and how it is used. There are certain things that should always be in the public domain, behaviour of public servants is one of them, but compromising the safety of people is something that should always be considered. The hounding of personalities is not in anybody's interests, it is just prurience. It is a shame that the reporting of Harry in Afghanistan has now bought this dreadful war back into the forefront of the news and is yet again going to increase the danger to all the troops that are serving there, regardless of who they are.

  • 189.
  • At 02:41 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Graham Nelson wrote:

So, how much more information does the BBC and its media peers hide from us at the bequest of the Government?

The comparison with this and embargoes concerning Police investigations is spurious to say the least. In those cases, the people being protected have no choice in being so exposed to dangers. Unlike them (and ironically, unlike his military colleagues) Harry most surely DID have a choice not to go.

(As a Royal, Harry must wake up to the fact that his position IS different from the average Joe Soap and accept it, not swan off to play soldiers and put others' lives at extra risk.)

  • 190.
  • At 02:45 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Amanda wrote:

Well at last! I finally feel proud of the British media. There is too much published in the British press that really doesn't need to be said, well done Britain!

  • 191.
  • At 02:46 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Sion Griffiths wrote:

I think it is a shame that the media feel the need to blackmail the authorities on this matter. It should never have been 'we'll keep quiet, but only for an exclusive'. That is completely outrageous. The lives of many men and women are at risk doing a great thing for this country, HRH simply wanted to do the same thing, and for that he is applauded. However, the media show have agreed to stay quiet without the need for 'inside information'. Many people are sent to war zones every week, however how many do you think will have news crews taking pictures and filming whilst on duty?? Prince Harrys' regiment was meant to be lept safe from him being there, however with the shameful way the media agreed to the blaackout, I feel HRH and his regiment were put in more danger.

If only you had been as forthcoming when you were first approached to do this. Do you seriously believe this hasn't seriously, possibly irreparably, damaged the journalistic credibility of the BBC? Did you spare a moment's thought on how this might be perceived? Woeful judgement all round.

  • 193.
  • At 02:53 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Philip wrote:

Jon, I fail to see why you're being so apologetic about this - while I don't expect the BBC to tell out and out falsehoods, I don't expect them to run around telling stories that could harm our country. Surely as the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation, funded by the people of this country we have a right to expect you to play a part in the struggle we are engaged in? I do wish the BBC would stop pretending it's somehow not part of this country and sitting in moral judgement on us from a position of benign neutrality between the UK and those who wish to hurt it.

  • 194.
  • At 02:54 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Stuart Fairway wrote:

A very intelligent decision not to break the story. And also - why on earth would anyone WANT to break a story which could lead to the deaths of British servicemen on active duty?

We don't NEED to know everything. Speaking personally, I've always felt that those in the public eye, especially the royals, are 'better' than me anyway. A bit of public humility wouldn't go amiss - we didn't need to know, and a young soldier has been able to get on with the job he is employed to do without the fear of some moronic reporter out to get a name for themselves reporting on his position for personal gain.

The dogma of "the public's right to know" has been the excuse for all kinds of damaging, self-interested behaviour by the news media. How refreshing to hear a story which actually enhances my respect for the profession. The BBC and others should be applauded.

For the record, I don't need or want to know every time a soldier is wounded or killed, either; monthly casualty statistics will do just fine. And I certainly don't to want to hear from casualties' families, who by definition hold peculiar, subjective opinions and "represent" no-one but themselves.

  • 196.
  • At 02:56 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ted Tedford wrote:

This is like something by Chris Morris. I am amazed that people are praising the British media for doing only what common decency required of them. The BBC no more deserve praise than a man who declares he has given up beating his wife. Our national interest and the lives of our soldiers were at stake. That surely is worth more than British broadcasters' self-righteous commitment to 'news' and the pompous regard for some self-policed idea of 'truth'.

Anyway, it didn't work out so bad for you after all: you got the splash. The unseemly rush to print, complete with self-congratulatory comments about how restrained everyone has been, is a glimpse into the true standards of our journalism.

  • 197.
  • At 02:57 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • an american military officer wrote:

I absolutely applaud the editors of the various British media organizations that subscribed to this voluntary agreement. As an American Intelligence Officer stationed somewhere in Afghanistan, I emphatically agree that a constant stream of media reporting would only have made the Prince a greater target, which would have certainly increased the dangers he and his fellow soldiers face every day.

My appreciation to the Prince for having the fortitude to serve side by side with his fellow countrymen, and facing the dangerous turf that is Helmand province. And my appreciation to the press for letting him do so.

Well played sirs!!!

  • 198.
  • At 02:58 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Lucy Yardley wrote:


About time, journalists have behaved in the professional manner of being the 'media' rather than the 'paparazzi'. Most refreshing to see the royal family treated as that - and not as the ridiculous idea of celebrity that our country seems to becoming more and more obsessed by. Thankyou.
Lucy, carlisle

  • 199.
  • At 03:04 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Josephine Bennington wrote:

Not surprising Harry was spotted, if he was being tagged around by Beeb reporters and film crews "getting up close and personal", still chasing the story.

Some double standards here despite the so-called honest description of the news blackout.

  • 200.
  • At 03:06 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

What really surprises me isn't the leak - or the previous news embargo - or even the assorted attacks on the Drudge Report. All that Drudge did is report a story in an Australian magazine from TWO WEEKS AGO. No, what's particularly surprising is that the Prince Harry story's apparently been in the public domain for the last fortnight and no-one noticed.

As always, this shows how irresponsible the press is. I am glad the BBC and the rest of the British press had a "voluntary" agreement with the MoD. It is definitely the way to go about it, but what about the rest of the outfits around the world?

I believe in transparency. But news like this will put lives in danger, regardless of who those lives are. Yes, he decided he wants to be a soldier, but this adds a bulls-eye on his back.

I am once again very disappointed on the global press. The BBC and rest of British press should have still not publish any story about Harry in or out of hot areas while he is in active duty.

  • 202.
  • At 03:09 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ricky wrote:

Well, pretty interesting gentlemen's agreement, and probably a responsible one, too, given Prince William's celebrity status and Al Qaeda's habit of messing up famous sites such as World Trade Center-New York. That being said, a comment about Prince William: this is not the first time a royal went to war on the front lines. You go into the history books, you see all sorts of warrior kings, King David, King Solomon, the Plantagenets, Alexander the Great, at least a few Roman emperors, etc. What is William doing but reviving an ancient custom?

  • 203.
  • At 03:12 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Doug Gruber wrote:

Mr. Martin Nichol calls the Prince self-indulgent because he has wanted to serve his country as a soldier? Pray tell what is indulgent about being on a front line of an active war in a mountainous desert country? Are the other soldiers who are serving, have served, or forfeited their lives self indulgent? Should they be prevented from serving?

  • 204.
  • At 03:13 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Miss Margaret A Williamson wrote:

I feel sorry for Prince Harry, he should be able to do his job without the public and media following every move. The army have to work in difficult places and it is good to see he was allowed for a time to use his expertease in a true combat area.

  • 205.
  • At 03:14 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Astrid Taim wrote:

Bravo to the BBC for keeping 'mum' on The Prince's activities. As a Canadian, a country with Troops fighting in one of the most dangerous regions in Afghanistan - the reality hit home long ago how dangerous the situation is for our enlisted. We don't need some moron who thinks they are 'doing us a favour' by reporting on Prince Harry - and possibly lighting the powder keg.
Astrid Taim, Ontario, Canada

  • 206.
  • At 03:14 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Victoria Lowe wrote:

My, my... there was a lot of back patting going on in your editorial. Why on Earth would you need to think long and hard about not reporting Harry's whereabouts? Here's a young man who wants to do his job and serve his country. There's no overwhelming "need to know" by the public. Your self-congratulating, self-serving words are nauseating. The world-wide media should be ashamed of their report-at-all-costs attitude. You're no better than paparazzi.

  • 207.
  • At 03:16 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Steve Zeigler wrote:

Let me add my well done. The British media should be proud of itself for understanding that some things are more important than the "publics right to know".

As an American I'm ashamed and embarrassed by Drudge Report. It seems American media will do anything to break a story first - even when It's wrong to do so.

  • 208.
  • At 03:16 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Brian Egan (Norfolk( wrote:

I completely disagree with the approach the BBC have taken on this matter.
As John Snow put it on the Today programme this morning the Harry siutation is very different to that which the BBC already have with the police.
In those instances you are withholding information as there is a real and present danger regarding a person, operation etc. This decision was taken before Harry went to Afghanistan when there was no danger to him or his fellow troops who potentially serve alongside him.
To justify this news blackout on the basis of getting access to him is pathetic. Why should you and other news organisations spend so much time filming Harry in Afghanistan? He is not the real story of Afghanistan, the troops serving there or the people who are suffering as a result of the war.
This news blackout and all that went with was only to the benefit of Harry and the Royal family. His ambition to fight which although admirable makes very little difference to the war effort and I am sure the BBC did not want any more bad relations with the Royals after the queen episode last year so did not want to be the 'one' news organisation who did not agree to the blackout.
However your obligation is not to either the Queen or Harry it is to us, the license fee paying public. I came from Ireland 10 years or so ago and have always thought that the BBC was one of the greatest things about this country. I always thought those who complained about the license fee did not know just how good a service they were getting and always supported the BBC and the fee.
Your duty to me and others is not to tell the story of Harry in Afghanistan but to tell us about the REAL issues in that country and what it means for us and everyone else in the world.
I completely agree with witholding information under the terms of your current arrangement with the police but this matter was an entirely different situationa and no amount of spin will change that.
You have eroded the trust that I have always had in the BBC. Premium rate phone lines are one thing, individuals can make mistakes and ill-judgement and for that I do not blame the BBC as a whole, it's just one of those things.
However on this matter you, the BBC collectively, have changed what I think about the BBC and nothing you can do will every restore the confidence I once had in this once great organisation, it's still great just not the greatest and now sits shoulder to shoudler with many other news organisation, a sad day indeed.

  • 209.
  • At 03:17 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Robin Till wrote:

I think the British media acted in a way which many audiences wish they could do every day - with integrity and respect.

And whilst I can see the argument for a journalist to report on the unknown, surely there are somethings, like this situation for example, which are best left unreported? Had the MOD refused to grant special access to Harry would the BBC have blown his cover? Surely when lives are at risk there is no need for a deal to be struck, it should be taken as granted that the Press will act responsibly?

  • 210.
  • At 03:19 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Elizabeth wrote:

I am also an American and I must say that I am saddened that it was a sensationalist American website that decided to break this story. It is disappointing that the decision of Drudge reiterates the negative world view of Americans. It is unfortunate that Prince Harry will not be able to finish his stint in Afghanistan, but I am happy for him that he was able to serve for a short period. The whole of the UK media should be very proud of the decision not to broadcast his whereabouts. Prince Harry should be commended for his service as should all the soldiers.

  • 211.
  • At 03:21 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • LJ USA wrote:

I applaud the British media and European media for their restraint in reporting Prince Harry's deployment. I am ashamed that a US site endangered British troops.

  • 212.
  • At 03:21 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

I think that this situation should never have arisen.

Harry should be made to accept that he is NOT an everyman but a potentialy important (and famous) public figure. As such his presence - reported or otherwise - on the frontlines is endangering the lives of his comrades; I find it hard to believe that capture, attack and protection are addressed no differently when the group invovled includes a possible future king.

I think that there is a general acceptance amongst intelligent society that media censorship, agendas and manipulation are part of the fabric of modern day reporting, and this type of agreement doesn't concern me, and is certainly nothing new.

  • 213.
  • At 03:21 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • ad wrote:

Hey what happened to media independence?
I understand that sensible reporting would have not allowed the report to have been made public but then a half truth is always synonymous to a lie. Truth: no matter how hard it is to tell, is a truth....media cannot absolve themselves of not telling truth.

Responsible reporting (read not sensible but responsible) restricts media from reporting on issues like kidnaps etc which would hinder the course of justice in a case.....course of justice which in this case was ??

A soldier when they joins the armed forces knows that they will have to serve as per the call of duty...call of duty which is not someone's hobby but a serious business of defending a nation. Its not upto a royalty to take up the call of duty but the nation to call on its soldiers (if a Prince is a soldier he then is a soldier first). If a nation is too worried about sending the royalty to the battlefield and hiding it from its own citizens, why send them? and if they do go its NEWS....news which people need to know as it happens when it happens....

So tell me if something was to happen to the Prince in the meantime, would then the media had said that they knew about the Prince being in the battlefield...would then the media told the people that hey we knew he was there but see we did not want to tell the people of the great nation that one of our Prince is in the battlefield and hence we should be telling them that....

  • 214.
  • At 03:22 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Sharon wrote:

The people responsible for the breaking of the story are stupid, ignorant and greedy individuals with no regard for anyone else. The world's media seems to think it has carte blanche to report on anything and anyone it deems to be newsworthy, regardless of the consequences. The British media actually did the right thing - for once - but seems to consider that it should be congratulated for doing so. It took five months to reach this agreement and the British press made sure that it would get its pound of flesh from Harry once his deployment had ended. So, I think for these people to pretend that they only did it for Harry and his fellow soliders is laughable. We didn't need to know!

am so disappointed in you the media for selecting what truths you share. I don't believe that the will and desire of one man should be enough to get all our press to agree to a secrecy deal with the MoD.

Just because Harry wanted to fight doesn't mean he should. We can't always have what we want and our lives and circumstances dictate what we can and can't do...he is who he is.

It is not the media who would be putting Harry or his troop mates in danger - it is Harry and his determination to have his way.

If the media can enter into an agreement to withold information from the public it sets a dangerous precedent and personally, I find it deeply concerning.


  • 216.
  • At 03:26 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • C Grundke wrote:

Congratulations to the BBC and British media in general for sensibly refraining from publicizing information that would have put lives at needless risk for no useful purpose. The agreement between the media and the Ministry of Defence seems a model of journalistic discretion that wisely balances conflicting priorities. The Prince's willingness to serve his country in a dangerous area is commendable; the termination of his mission due to the poor judgement of a journalist is regrettable. May I suggest -- tongue firmly in cheek -- that the American and British governments might reach some agreement whereby the public good could be served by having Drudge substitute for the Prince in Afghanistan?

It was the right decision to blackout that Prince Harry was in Afghanistan, he is not an ordinary person. Who ever leaked this information should be punished.

  • 218.
  • At 03:27 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Matt wrote:

Well done BBC & Others


Shame the others couldn't keep quiet!

It was the right decision to blackout that Prince Harry was in Afghanistan, he is not an ordinary person. Who ever leaked this information should be punished.

  • 220.
  • At 03:28 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Sue Britton wrote:

I absolutely believe the BBC did the right thing by imposing this blackout. How idiotic that people feel they have a right to know even when the results can bring injury or death to Prince Harry. Shame on the Drudge Report for leaking the news. I'm an American and feel only contempt for them to be so careless in order to be the first to divulge news. It speaks to the times and the way people think anymore.

BBC, you did the right thing!!!

  • 221.
  • At 03:29 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Naomi wrote:

Why is it assumed that the public would be up in arms about not being told that Prince Harry is or was serving in Afghanistan? Why do we need to be told about everything that the Royal Family does? My life is no richer or poorer for knowing or not knowing what they are doing but the army is poorer now as they will be unable to deploy a well-trained and by all accounts first-rate soldier. Give the man a break! Give us a break too and give us news that we need to know rather than just be titillated by. If people feel they really need to know perhaps they should ask themselves why.

  • 222.
  • At 03:31 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • John Archer wrote:

The BBC and the British media were right to hold back on this information. No we don't have a 'right to know' if it puts Harry and others at risk. Whatever we feel about the war, a war it is, and therefore appropriate secrecy is vital, and this was appropriate!

  • 223.
  • At 03:31 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Matt Smith wrote:

Nice to see our media (whom i personally find at fault for alot of this countries problems) doing the responsible thing for once.

Well done bbc and others for making the correct decision and letting the Prince defend his country in (relative) safety.

The drudge report is 'lowest common denominator' media reporting at best, its basically an online comic. Please do not add to the hits they get for irresponsible and down right dangerous journalism by linking to their site (or clicking the link)

  • 224.
  • At 03:32 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • daniel wrote:

I can't believe everyone is so positive about this. Surely the only question the media have to ask themselves is whether, on balance, publication of a story is in the public interest. I cannot see how refraining from reporting this was in anyone's interest except the prince. And i wasn't aware that the British media had a duty to protect the interests of the prince.
And now the idea that the whole media establishment can succesfully collude for weeks to black out a story is going to linger long and hard in the minds of every armchair conspiracy theorist in the land.
I think in the long term this is going to damage the reputation of the media. But clearly i seem to be in a minority of 1, judging by the public response.

  • 225.
  • At 03:33 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Nick wrote:

A good decision and an excellent explanation Jon. Thank you to the BBC and other worldwide organisations who kept the bargain; it's refreshing to see that the media CAN behave with some restraint.

Those that feel they have been "conned" by the media should be mindful of the fact that families of thousands of military personnel deployed around the world have no idea where their loved ones are serving. You are deluded if you think that you have a right to know how and where any member of the armed forces is deployed.

It's a sad reflection of our state of engagement with celebrity-driven media that people think they are entitled to know when an individual soldier is sent somewhere. When revealing information like this puts lives in danger, I would have thought it would be obvious that there is no case for quenching (some parts of) the public's desire for irrelevant tabloid tittle-tattle.

Regrettably, these views don't appear to be widely-held.

  • 226.
  • At 03:33 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Tommye J. Winkley wrote:

I apologize on behalf of USA citizens for the publishing of this information by one of our questionable "news sources". Our press and TV media is behaving, in general, in a very inappropriate manner of late. It is perfectly understandable why this information would need to be kept quiet; to allow this young man, who happens to be third in line to the throne, to serve his country in a meaningful way and to protect those who serve with him. I congratulate Prince Harry for wanting to contribute and to do his job. His mother, who wanted her sons to experience life as others do, as far as was possible for a member of the Royal Family, IS proud of him. Participating in every aspect of life, not just the vaporous activities, can only help in the growth and development of young Royals to become substantial adults. His grandmother, the Queen, and her parents, contributed much to the people during WWII. Perhaps I have no place to even comment since our current Administration is notorious for escaping any kind of meaningful life activity prior to assuming office. Keep him safe on his return home.

  • 227.
  • At 03:35 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Jill wrote:

Dear Editor :Glad to hear everyone behaving responsibly. I do question the truth on whether any other news black outs are currently in place. Most of the British media (and some laymen like myself)know of a news black out that was put in place during Tony Blair's horrible summer a few years ago. As this hasn't been reported on, doesn't this mean the news black out is still in place.?

  • 228.
  • At 03:36 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Sajeev Nair wrote:


As a devoted listener of BBC for many years, I must say that this news black out was unbecoming to the stature of an impartial and reliable media, and the way you did as if you are based in Myanmar or Noth Korea. You do broadcast news items which can have much larger security implications- especially on war in Iraq, cartoons of Prophet in Denmark etc hence the yardstick matters. Anyway, I must "commend" the Mr/Ms Right sensors at BBC for their formidable ability to defend the indefensible!

  • 229.
  • At 03:39 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Majeedullah wrote:


If the BBC and the rest of the British Media have adhered to this code due to privilege. This sort of self censorship is counter productive.

If self censorship code would be meated out to rich and poor then the Bristish Media should be congratulated.

  • 230.
  • At 03:46 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • N Kenworthy wrote:

It's a pity you want some sort of pat on the back for keeping it quiet, it's more of a pity that you'd print a story simply because you decide 1 other person has the right to know rather than everyone having a right to know - it's a great shame that whenever there's a plan of action it's in print for everyone to read including our so-called enemies. It's time we learned that there's a time and a place for gossip and news, and that we don't have an automatic right to know everything the minute it happens - truth can be damgaging, as well as liberating.

  • 231.
  • At 03:48 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Charles wrote:

I find it hilarious that the upper-brass of the BBC got together and all agreed that they are all trustworthy and honarable people and therefore there is nothing inproper about trading trust for access. Well done, gentlemen. Your places at the table are secure and your invitations to the gala events are in the mail. Other than that, the access you so brazenly bought with the public trust is utterly worthless.

This kind of journalism must stop, and I dare say that thanks to the internet, the revolution has begun. Keep collecting those cheques, fellas.

  • 232.
  • At 03:55 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Gavin wrote:

"No editor wants to be responsible for increasing the risk they already face from the Taleban". I'm confused about this - in what way is the media responsible for British Foreign Policy or the deployment of British Forces in Afghanistan? I thought that the responsibility of the media is to scrutinize the facts and to report on them with impartiality.

I can't see the relevance of media practice regarding criminal investigations by the police to the reporting of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. This conflict is affecting the lives of millions.

Finally, having agreed to a news blackout regarding Prince Harry's deployment, what on earth was a film crew doing filming him there? In what way does retrospective footage of a unique individual in a contrived situation serve the publics interest?

  • 233.
  • At 03:57 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • mick oakley wrote:

What a lot of trot! Do you really think that Harry's presence would make any difference to whether someone wants to kill a british soldier or not in Afghanistan? How simple-minded are you lot! What is important about this story is that the press has colluded to suppress a story at the request of the government - the free press is dead if we go down that route.

  • 234.
  • At 03:58 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Franz wrote:

Continued inferance that you had a 'choice' As if the author of this article is intensley keen or maintaining face, or trying to add some cunning to the image of the bc in the process

  • 235.
  • At 03:58 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Armstrong wrote:

Well done BBC and other organisations who upheld the agreement and so pathetic of the American medium that did the leak...to what end? What did they gain from it? I totally agree with the comment of Helen C (128) and think Kristo at (127) is ridiculous in the fact that he/she obviously cannot see the wider implications/danger to other soldiers by making Harry's movements public. Ah well, each to his own view but, in mine, common sense prevailed and I think it is brownie points to the British media.

Well done and thank you.

  • 237.
  • At 03:59 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Kieron wrote:

Well said Sean McPherson (#92.)

The fact is that it wasn't so much common sense and/or the safety of Prince Harry and his colleagues that led to the media black-out; more-so that the BBC managed to strike a deal to allow them access to his daily exploits.

Would they have agreed to the black-out if they weren't given this exclusive content?

To me, it goes without saying that this story should be kept out of the public eye. So for that, yes, well done BBC (and others)- common sense prevailed. However, shame on you for taking five months to decide whilst you made sure you got something out of the deal. Surely having cameras follow his every move doesn't provide the best conditions for him to get on with his job.

  • 238.
  • At 04:00 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • April wrote:

And why do we all think that we have any right to know any of this? We don't! It's that simple. There is no reason that we need to know that a particular soldier id on active duty or not. It is not a case of needing to know this news because it might affect your life in one way or another. This is just "news" because we want to know, not because we need to know.

So those that are saying shame on the journalists for making a gentlemans agreement not to satiate our need to know every single detail should be ashamed of themselves for their entitlement attitude. You are not entitled to anything!

Good on the BBC for recognizing that although their jobs are as journalists, there are some considerations that are higher, and some things that just should not be newsworthy just because they are popular. At least not until after the fact.

  • 239.
  • At 04:03 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Neil Fraser wrote:

Is this not just another example of the Royal family using the old boys network to get what it wants? If the Royals want to be treated like ordinary people then they should BE ordinary people. It seems that any time the Royals are mentioned nowadays there is an instant hysterical reaction of “Leave them alone, they’re just want to left alone like everybody else.” Well they’re not like every body else. They are the Royal Family, and we pay for them. Therefore, we have a right to know where they are and what they are doing, whether it’s getting into fights in night-clubs, indulging in immoral or illegal activities, or playing soldiers in Afghanistan.
These constant calls to be left alone are further proof that the Royals are an anachronism and should be abolished.
As we also pay for the BBC, you and your colleagues are our employees and should report the news we want to hear, not the news that you and your public school cronies want us to hear. How can we believe the defence of “there's nothing else we're not telling you”; its obvious you wouldn’t tell us if there was!

  • 240.
  • At 04:04 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Robert Carnegie wrote:

It isn't necessary to be foursquare behind all our war efforts alongside the U.S. in the Middle East, and other foreiign policy exercises, to agree that it was appropriate for the BBC and other news sources to keep off this story. It's in the nature of these things, not so much with the BBC but with other news "channels", that that cooperation had to be bought. And if the deal hadn't been done then presumably Prince Harry wouldn't have gone. Also, we can accept that the deal was temporary. I hope that similar editorial restraint is practised whenever reporting a story is liable to do more harm than good. I hesitate to condemn Drudge, I don't know how many religious radicals or other enemies of the occupation take time to read that coverage, and we accept that American culture professes to prefer freedom of information and thhat's a good thing to have and right now they're much more interested in their elections - but the same applies in that quarter: what good did it do to publish this? Now?

Perhaps the context was of scrutiny of which important people in America do and don't have young relatives serving in war at the moment.

  • 241.
  • At 04:06 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Terhi wrote:

I for one was surprised to hear how long he'd been there before the story broke. Keeping secrets not beeing what the (Brittish) media is best known for. ;) I can understand the need and the decision to keep this secret.

However, I do want to add that it seems to me that this news block-out is what they'd call a win-win situation in the US for everyone involved: for Prince Harry in being able to go to active duty (is that the correct term?), for the military/NATO/government to get a whole lot of PR around the world on a war they are fighting that's been largely forgotten, and for the media in getting a lot of access to the Prince and a huge public interest story like this.

On another note: I can also understand the need for Prince Harry to prove himself and to strive to be a "normal" soldier. It is somewhat naive IMO to think that he ever could actually accomplish the "normal" part of that, though. He was born to a position that invokes a lot of attention around the world. I don't think that anything will ever change that.

  • 242.
  • At 04:06 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Ulrich wrote:

If it is so dangerous to send someone to the front line, he should not be going to in the first place ! The effort required to send him there in secret clearly shows how ridiculous the entire exercise has been.
This is essentially a government cover up, the most disturbing thing however is how many people here that are actually supporting this.

  • 243.
  • At 04:09 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Derek Horsey wrote:

The British press deserve kudos for the way this situation was handled. It is a great shame the U.S. press do not work the same way, but I expect, as usual, they go for the one upmanship method. Good work U.K. press and good work "Harry"

  • 244.
  • At 04:11 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • aaron wrote:

"Harry wanted a career in the Army and he needed to be able to be deployed to do what he'd been trained to do, even if it was just for a day."


Of course- whatever a prince wants, a prince gets right?

  • 245.
  • At 04:11 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • raj wrote:

never heard of a media blackout before and i think it is awesome! Prince Harry got his dream of serving for his country and it is such a shame that it was found out as he would have been home in a matter of weeks anyway! but well done to prince harry it was a very noble thing to do in my opinion!
and well done to the british media too (and the american ones who had to be briefed and were kind enough to keep it secret too!!)

  • 246.
  • At 04:12 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Martin Smith wrote:

"At its simplest, journalism is about telling people things they don't know."

I wish your colleagues shared this view of journalism and then we would be spared the countless "stories" that in fact only constitute blinding glimpses of the obvious revealed by some new "survey" or "research".


  • 247.
  • At 04:17 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Carol wrote:

Just a thank you to all British Reporters for not increasing the risk to all of the soliders serving overseas. My son is one of my many troops overseas at the moment and I would have been in a higher worry mode if I had know the prince was overseas with him. Thank you for helping to keep our troops safer for a while.

  • 248.
  • At 04:18 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Cynthia wrote:

I don't agree with this at all. He is a grown man who chooses to grow up with all the fame that goes with being a prince. There are circumstances where free speech should be curtailed (selling and viewing of child pornography). This is definetely not one of them.

  • 249.
  • At 04:18 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Jeremy wrote:

As an American, I must say that Mr. Drudge is not considered to be apart of the mainstream media. He is ready and willing to post any story to his website without restraint, judgment or common sense. He does not care about Harry or his comrades. Mr. Drudge will do whatever it takes to keep making millions of dollars. In closing, please refrain from thinking or believing that authentic journalists in America would ever want to subject Harry or his comrades to any form of danger.

  • 250.
  • At 04:21 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • James Chaplin wrote:

Personally I think the american who released the story should be barred from entering the UK.

No respect. No class. just trash.

Well done to harry - he could have taken the easy route - well done to the media for their discipline.

  • 251.
  • At 04:21 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Zer wrote:

Silence bought off with access, spun as professional journalism.

  • 252.
  • At 04:22 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • andrew holden wrote:

Spot on! The agreement was simply to hold the story until Harry was safe and back having done his duty - not to keep it a secret for ever! I don't feel let down - in fact for once I applaud the British media for doing the right thing.

Can't understand Jon Snow's opposition at all - it was in everyone's interest to keep the story *temporarily* under wraps. Freedom of the press has not been compromised - and anyway freedom of the press is not some Absolute Principle to be defended against everything else - it has to be tempered with the rights of individuals to get on with their lives so long as they are doing so legally.

  • 253.
  • At 04:24 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Henry wrote:

Well done to the BBC and all of the media concerned ( with the exception of the Drudge ) Well done Harry and to the Royal family for its support. How many members of the cabinet have close family members serving Queen and country in the forces? I bet we won't see Blair's boys in the front line.

  • 254.
  • At 04:24 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Lynsay wrote:

Whilst I applaud all concerned for this, can I just mention our other brave boys who are in Afghanistan. I do not believe for one minute that Prince Harry wants to be treated any differently from any other British soldier - hence the background to this story. All our soldiers out there deserve recognition for the job they are doing, and no-one should be singled out.

  • 255.
  • At 04:28 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • helen wrote:

trust the US press to mess things up for Harry. he obviously wanted to do the job he was trained for and be on the front line, not receiving special treatment and kid gloves, but now he wont be able to do that.

  • 256.
  • At 04:29 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Amanda wrote:

What hypocrisy! It seems that the only reason that the media, including the BBC, kept the news secret was that you had been promised access to Harry in Afghanistan. Is this how a 'normal' army officer lives? Cameras up his nose every minute?

  • 257.
  • At 04:41 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • SUBRATA SARKER wrote:

That does not sound logical to me. People have right to know and the government and the celebrities have to operate within that constraint. These are the kind of agreements between the establishment and media that often lead to "embedded" journalism right from London.

Very commendable indeed. Well done British Media!

  • 259.
  • At 04:45 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • cmatthews wrote:

Since when was it the job of the press to collude in allowing anyone - Royal or not - to go off to war in order to enjoy the experience?
It's the job of the press to tell us the truth, not to collude in surpressing the truth for no very good reason at all.
Yes Harry would be a target. So you either send him and he takes a risk or you keep him at home and if he chooses to resign over that, so be it.
The alternative - let him go to war and lie to everybody about it - just isn't on in this day and age.

  • 260.
  • At 04:58 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • F.L. Louis wrote:

As an American, I am shamed an saddened at how the US media has used this information for one thing -profit. It wasn't to inform the media, but to "make a sale". This is by far one of the most horrific things the "yellow journalists" could have done to Prince Harry. All he wanted to do was to make serve his country. Obviously, this wasn't for a photo op. And, should he have been caught, he would have been used the same way that the US and other non-UK forces are treating him - propaganda. I know I am not the only one proud to see the prince standing up and fighting alongside his fellow Britons.

  • 261.
  • At 05:00 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

I think that this situation should never have arisen.

Harry should be made to accept that he is NOT an everyman but a potentialy important (and famous) public figure. As such his presence - reported or otherwise - on the frontlines is endangering the lives of his comrades; I find it hard to believe that capture, attack and protection are addressed no differently when the group invovled includes a possible future king.

I think that there is a general acceptance amongst intelligent society that media censorship, agendas and manipulation are part of the fabric of modern day reporting, and this type of agreement doesn't concern me, and is certainly nothing new.

  • 262.
  • At 05:08 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Nic Blackburn wrote:

The BBC are clearly supporting the war in Afghanistan and by agreeing to a news black-out, which in my view is wholly wrong and an abuse of position, they make their position only too clear.
I pay for the BBC as well as millions of others and I do not support the war. The BBC is clearly a propaganda tool to be used by those in power.... "A bunch of puppets, lapdogs and lick-spittles"
The mighty USSR was in Afghanistan for the best part of twenty years and they couldn't defeat the local tribesmen, so what chance do poorly equipped British forces stand?

  • 263.
  • At 05:19 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Devon wrote:

First, The Drudge Report is a disgrace and I do not respect it for leaking this news. Why does anyone, UK or US need to know where the royal family members are deployed for active duty?! I mean, it may be interesting in the sense a Tabloid about Britney's mental breakdown is momentary shock, but it is not worth the long-term reprecussions, such as taking the prince, who would rather be out on the front lines, aiding his country, out of Afghanistan. I am deeply dispointed in the Drudge Report and I will never feel compelled to read its pages.

Second, this raises some concern about media black-outs. I agree in instances where personal safety is at risk, the news outlets not jeapoardize this, but what I am uncertain about is what sort of political news blackouts, or economic that may be reached, in exchange, for another service. For example, understandably companies want to profit, but to exchange for the prince's safetly and nonmention of his deployment, they expect something. So really, it is successful only because the BBC was receiving a type of 'compensation' in the form of interviews and filming that other media outlets were not given. That makes the blackout no longer for the benefit of the circumstance/country.. but for personal gain. Such a deal should not have been made with this mind and it really just says of the BBC "We know this is so important to you, and because it is, we know we can get more from you if we perhaps make this agreement." instead of them saying, we honor your concerns and we will not be reporting on this because it is simply not worth it long term.

I hope my commentary makes sense. Haha

  • 264.
  • At 05:25 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • jono wrote:

What a buch of self satisfied hand wringing.

"So, for the past ten weeks, the BBC, ITV and Sky News have been filming with Prince Harry - the first time we've been up close and personal with him."

They were bought off. The BBC and the rest of the UK media can never be trusted again.

"there are no other "voluntary agreements" in place at the moment"

Do I look like an idiot?

  • 265.
  • At 05:30 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Shannon Gallagher wrote:

I for one am irritated to no end that the so called "news" website, the drudge report, leaked the news of the prince being in Afghanistan. I usually have the biggest problem when wars are fought, and the politicians never send their own children to fight in them. In this case on of your royal family volunteers, and some moron puts him, and his fellow soldiers in his regiment at risk by publicizing this. I hope this shows the rest of the world the sheer irresponibility, and tabloidism of some of the media in the U.S. and also show that the so called conservatives in this country are nothing of the sort.

  • 266.
  • At 05:30 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Priya wrote:

I am extremely proud of the professionalism BBC has shown.

If providing a certain information involves risking a persons' life, there is absolutely no need to do that. There is already enough gossip to feed the hungry readers. This is serious business and I believe BBC handled it an extremely righteous and commendable manner.


Way to go!

  • 267.
  • At 05:35 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • John Redmond wrote:

Well done Jon Williams, the BBC and the rest of the media - you made the right call. It actually enhances trust in the media that you can keep stum when it's so obviously the right thing to do. And the soul-searching is fully understandable.

I'm neither a royalist nor a supporter of us being in Afganistan, but we are and British soldiers, whatever their profile, deserve our respect and support. Oh and well done MOD (for once).

  • 268.
  • At 05:36 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Tom` wrote:

Personally, I think it was a fine idea not to print the story; printing prior to Prince Harrys' deployment would of made him a known high profile target, and put whoever was serving along with him at risk. The fact the prince is willing to do this, to make a difference - and by the sounds of things isn’t just making a token effort is something I really feel that the folks who are criticizing the decision of the B.B.C. should take to heart. Bottom line, the Prince – in this case - is a solider, going about his business
I agree wholeheartedly with the earlier poster; Mr Nick Sharp – Yes, the author of the article in the drudge report did act in the public interest; but I do feel the question should be asked as to why he felt the need.

  • 269.
  • At 05:36 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Cali Cat wrote:

I'm honestly very sad that it was American media that leaked it out though I am relieved that it was not a mainstream network such as CNN, Fox, AP, etc.

Cheers for Harry's fairly successful deployment and the media blackout -even for a short while. It was long enough at least for him to develop habits, routine and gain valuable experience in the field.

  • 270.
  • At 05:37 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Eddy Barratt wrote:

By agreeing to a news blackout the media were not protecting the lives of soldiers in Afghanistan, without a blackout the Prince would simply not have been deployed; in effect the blackout didn't benefit anyone except for Harry himself and the media who could look forward to breaking the story when the time came.

This blackout was not in the public interest; it simply saved face for the royal family and provided future sales for the media. Not a proud moment for free press.

  • 271.
  • At 05:37 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • John wrote:

I believe you were entirely correct in this.

Putting lives at risk for the sake of public curiosity is wrong. When you fanned the insurgency and clearly caused many deaths with the abu-ghraib revelations there was a justification for reporting, but not on this occassion.

I believe that this decision has raised public confidence in the media.

  • 272.
  • At 09:21 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Rachael wrote:

I was amazed to find that the press had kept quiet for so long! Well done the British press. I am sure that Prince Harry must appreciate being "allowed" to do his job - the one that he trained for , not the one he was born into.

  • 273.
  • At 10:31 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Kirstie wrote:

Thanks for your explanation. Whilst i think the British media did act correctly in this instance I am concerned about censorship. Please do not assume the overwhelming praise you are receiving means that we do not require a full explanation about such a news blackout in any future case. You are in a position of great power and responsibility and you must be primarily accountable to us the public and not to any political party or other influence, and we do require full statements and explanations of the reasons for any censorship.

  • 274.
  • At 11:12 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Nick H wrote:

I think that was a damn good job well done by all the media. If it hadn't been for that stupid Oz magazine looking for a headline, Prince Harry could have carried on a few weeks longer.
I think it is prefectly reasonable to expect the media to stay quiet on items of the security of the kingdom, and this was definitely one of them.
Even if prince Harry never serves another day in the field, he will be able to say "I know how it is" and stand proud in any role call.
Incidentally, I am not a Royalist, I am a Republican. But I recognise Harry's courage and the UK media's integrity.

  • 275.
  • At 11:34 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Rowan wrote:

Is there not something very wrong here? He should not have been there in the first place if you have to cover it up. It's not like he was kidnapped and taken there.

  • 276.
  • At 11:51 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Robert Smith wrote:

In other words, you blackmailed the MoD and the Royal Family into allowing you to get the 'scoop' when the news eventually broke - in return for graciously consenting not to endanger the lives of Prince Harry and everyone serving with him? I can hardly believe what I'm reading.

  • 277.
  • At 11:52 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • john wrote:

It is not the BBC's job to decide what we should be told and when we should be told it.

The comparison with a kidnap situation is not valid as that is a direct threat to a hostage and where reporting it could lead to a tragedy. This was a freely taken decision taken by the MOD and the royals and should have not been subject to a news blackout.

I notice that the BBC made sure they got their one to one close up footage with Harry and therein lies the real reason for the news blackout - it was simple financial deal, "You keep quiet - and you''l get your pictures"

I doubt the BBC would have agreed without this deal.

  • 278.
  • At 12:01 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Ross DMC wrote:

Total support for all Brits involved.

  • 279.
  • At 12:10 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • John B wrote:

I'm glad to see that the British Media has the common sense not to always report a story at all costs, there by, like in this instance ensuring that they do not increase the level of threat that our servicemen and women face on a day to day basis.
However what has enraged me over the course of reading the comments left by other people, an example is Rob message 155, is the unfair remarks leveled at the MOD and the Armed Services. If you don't agree with the war then fine but don't use the armed services to personify that anger and outrage, get behind them and give them the support they need to get the job done. The same with the MOD, neither one of these two groups sent our servicemen and women into harms way in wars or conflicts that the majority of the country objects to it was Parliament that did send them and now has given the MOD a spending increase that does not even cover the cost of inflation on supplies and equipment. If people would like for the involvement of the British Armed Services to be ended in Iraq and Afghanistan then put your money were our mouths are give the guys and girls out there the money to buy the supplies and equipment that they need to do the job so that they can come home with the minimum number of casualties and have a decent wage so that they know that their efforts are valued. apolgies for my spelling and grammmer.

  • 280.
  • At 12:12 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Tim Chapman wrote:

I sometimes think that you media have a very high opinion of yourselves, like your doing society a favour by not telling tales. I think sometimes you have to be reminded how little the vast majority of the public cares about what you do or don't write. Most of us have lives!

  • 281.
  • At 12:35 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Toners Bruxtin wrote:

It is called censorship. I did not volunteer to be censored.
The BBC is obviously working for the government.
Credibility NIL for not reporting the news.

  • 282.
  • At 02:06 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

As an ex-pat living in the US, the move made by the MOD in sending a trained Officer into duty, irrespective of his name, shows England understands current realities versus historical protocols...well done Harry

  • 283.
  • At 02:07 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Rich wrote:

I personally do not see why any cameras should be anywhere near him where he wants to lead an Army life. There should be procedures in place that other members of his regiment cannot take any photographs of him or have any camers with them. I can't believe that all regiments and all forces have to have a TV crew with them. Personally I'd rather read a book from Harry than watch what he does on the news every day.

  • 284.
  • At 03:23 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Shonali Goswami, India wrote:

Its amazing it lasted this long. There is some good in the media after all....way to go!!
I do however question Jon William's "there are no other "voluntary agreements" in place at the moment, there's nothing else we're not telling you."
If there WERE an agreement in place, the BBC wouldn't really be in a position to "TELL ALL" would it??

  • 285.
  • At 06:15 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Taofique Syed Ahmed wrote:

The BBC along with other media in the Uk had done the right thing keeping it behind the wall thus saving not only the Prince but also the other soldiers serving with him

  • 286.
  • At 06:40 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Jonathan B wrote:

Tough call, but well made. Thank you for demonstrating that the media can work together to make a decent decision that balances the rights of the individual to a "normal" life with our right to be told the truth. An omission such as this is not a lie it is a well deserved kindness to the royal family for their service and loyalty to us.

  • 287.
  • At 06:52 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Andrew wrote:

The more thought you give this, the more questionable the complicity becomes. Soldiers lives are at risk just by going to war. Leaking this story was not going to make the brave boy's life any more difficult. Afghanistan is a big place.
However, if you can pull this off for a story like this, it's not hard to create the need, say under the guise of 'national security', to create another blackout where we will blithely go about our business thinking that everything is fine in our world 'otherwise we would have heard about it from our strong and warrior-like press'. This is a perfect exmpale of the fact that we seem to assume our world is exactly what we've been fed it is from the media. We need to get better at being sceptical and discerning even of trusted sources these days.

  • 288.
  • At 07:30 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • riddi wrote:

"theres nothing else we are not telling you"

The Balen Report still seems to be hiding or is that just another "common purpose".

  • 289.
  • At 08:22 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Davefaz wrote:

"So when the Ministry of Defence approached the BBC, to ask us not to tell our audiences about a possible deployment of Prince Harry to Afghanistan, it was something we thought long and hard about."

Hmm...that you had to even think about it is perhaps telling. Had you truly been as responisible as you claim you are, then no thinking would have been necessary.

  • 290.
  • At 08:35 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Helen Cooper wrote:

I'm embarrassed that an Australian magazine was also guilty of breaking this story - the magazine,"New Idea" is known here by satirists and others with some degree of intelligence as "No Idea"- very perceptive!

What a shame Harry wasn't allowed to continue to live as a 'normal' person

  • 291.
  • At 08:47 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Gidds wrote:

Well done the British media. But so much fo the "special relationship" with America. And what about our "partners" in Europe? Shame on them!

  • 292.
  • At 08:48 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • RMJ Harvey wrote:


A 'news blackout' of such magnitude is usual in countries run by dictatorships. Pity to see our media so compliant with Gov't, Milatary & Palace dictat. Prince Harry's Afgan placement could have had serious consequences for the safely of our trrops. Thanks to the foreign media we were finally aware of the gagged British media's complicity in this anti-democratic process.

  • 293.
  • At 08:56 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • J Chambers wrote:

In answer to those who say they do not trust the media after this agreement - I trust them more. For once, they stood united and honourable to their word. I can only hope for more evidence of this restraint in future.

  • 294.
  • At 09:55 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Verity wrote:

I can't understand those people who think the blackout agreement was wrong.

I'm pretty sure they'd feel otherwise if they had family or friends out in Afganhistan (as I do).

This wasn't about colluding with the government, lying to the public, pandering to the Royal Family or anything else.

It was about protecting lives.

  • 295.
  • At 09:56 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Ewan Duffy wrote:

Quote: "there are no other "voluntary agreements" in place at the moment,"

Well, you would say that, wouldn't you.

  • 296.
  • At 10:35 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Louise Thomas wrote:

The tradition of royals taking up military careers should be abandoned. Having said that, the fact that reporting on Harry's deployment could have had dire consequences, whereas the public's 'need to know' in this instance never rose above a case of celebrity watching, meant the acceptance of a news blackout was the only sensible choice. It was the right thing to do.

  • 297.
  • At 12:10 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • max justice wrote:

At last the media show some sense. You dont have an automatic right to invade the privacy of others especially when it could endanger lives. I want more news blackouts on Paris Hilton and Amy Winehouse etc.

  • 298.
  • At 12:23 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Jamie N wrote:

Kudos for once in their lives to the British media for keeping this quiet. However the cynic in me has a hunch that they only did so because they feared a public backlash against whoever broke the story first. I don't believe for one second that journalists would do this out of kindness to Prince Harry; they have been relentless in their pursuit of the Royal Family for decades.

"There's nothing else we're not telling you"
Oh really. How about releasing the Balen report then, instead of using my money to hide it?

  • 299.
  • At 12:29 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Laura wrote:

One comment calls Harry a 'self-indulgent young man'. I know I could never serve as a soldier and Harry should be praised for pushing to be allowed to do his duty, rather than being left behind a desk in the UK.

I hope, in time, he will be allowed to be deployed again.

  • 300.
  • At 12:39 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Matt B wrote:

Well done to the British media and shame on Mr Drudge who should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. What did he actually gain from this "scoop"?

Its not like he found something out that no other news company didn't know they were actually being smart and restraining themselves while he went straight to press without a moments thought. He just looks a fool.

  • 301.
  • At 12:55 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Philip Godfrey wrote:

If the media had not been told Harry was going to Afghanistan, would they have known? Why were they told - surely it would have been better not to tell them in the first place!

  • 302.
  • At 12:56 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Steven wrote:

Well done to the BBC & all other agencies involved in the news Black Out (Shame it took 5 months to be agreed though!)
I disagree with Mark about Harry not being allowed to go. At the end of the day Harry is risking his own life to do what the rest of the army is doing. I doubt many other members of a Royal Family would do the same in todays society.

  • 303.
  • At 01:21 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Margaret wrote:

Although I am pleased and support the media blackout on this occasion, I still feel a little saddened that the media would only keep quiet under the condition that they had access to the Princes 'story' before during and after his deployment. The royals are damned if they do and damned if they don't and the media's behavior and constant harassment into every aspect of their lives only adds fuel to these unfortunate debates. The Royals do a fabulous job on behalf of the UK and many work extremely hard. Yes, they do have to be accountable in their roles as diplomats for our country but that does not give us the right to need to know everything about their lives. Let's leave Harry alone to be able to do the job we have trained and financed him to do.

  • 304.
  • At 03:54 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Sam Jackson wrote:

Kudos to the Beeb and the British media in general for helping ensure that sensible journalism is delivered to the masses without unnecessarily endangering the Prince as well as the other deployed troops.

SHAME ON YOU DRUDGE... You sensationalist, who only makes your name in muckraking...

  • 305.
  • At 03:56 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Bert Douwe wrote:

Well done British Media how fustrating for Harry, altough in danger it was as near as a normal life as he will ever be.

Regards,

Bert

  • 306.
  • At 04:00 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Allan wrote:

I only read the first 50 comments, so apologies if anyone mentioned this but anyone who is criticising the bbc, or other organisations for this needs to take a real good look at themselves. No doubt that Harry being on the frontline is newsworthy, but are you so desperate for the gossip that you would rather put the lives of an entire regiment in danger. Grow up.

One person mentioned that Military deployments are not in the general interest...Yeah not normally, but when the third in line to the throne is on the front line, it is very much in the general interst. Sorry but what planet have you been living on recently?? When the rumours of him being sent to Iraq were surfacing, some groups came right out and said they would target him. Therefore even if you don't care about his safety, which is sad bye the way, it endangers his colleagues for no other reason than they happen to be posted with him. It's not fair on them.

So in this day and age when people are lamenting the loss of journalistic integrity, all news organisation (Drudge report aside) have acted with a remarkable degree of sensitivity and integrity. They were able to see the bigger picture and the fact that it wasn't really in anyones best interests to break this story until the deployment was over.

And after that publication did break the story it would do no good to stick to the agreement. it's out there now, continuing to ignore it is like sticking your head in the sand and hoping it'll all go away, well it won't. And it's better to get the large respectible organisations doing the reporting than such trash as the drudge report and these tabloid's who are only interested in selling their papers and spreading juicy gossip regardless of tact.

To me it all seems like a mountain srpung out of a molehill. Harry is in the army so he went to do a tour of duty. Media blackout was in everyones best interests. It's as simle as that. Why the controversy???

  • 307.
  • At 04:20 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Gareth wrote:

I'm not really interested in what the royal family get up to, or whether we even need them in this day and age.

If harry wanted to go and serve on the front line with the rest of the troops then good luck to him for doing what he was trained for.

How can people not think that the Taliban wouldnt have increased there attacks on the areas where they though the prince was serving, If the military got good intell on where Bin Laden was or his top commanders you can bet more troops and resources would be sent to find them. Thus the media reporting on his deployment would not only endangering Harry's life, but more importantly the rest of his regiment who are normal men and women serving their country.

And people would are saying we have a right to know, how would you like it if was your friends or family serving with Harry, would you want that reported so there was even more risk to their lives, i doubt it very much.

  • 308.
  • At 04:27 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • maninthepub wrote:

This is not the first time friendly foreign media has put British lives at risk in a war zone. It is a pity they seem to have forgotten the slogan “careless talk costs lives”. It is always pleasing to see that the “feral media" can act responsibly when nation duty calls.

Well done, and long may this attitude last.

Jon,
You know you did not go in to journalism to act as a PR officer for the MoD.
YOu know this sends the wrong signal to the audience - even the audience that backs our Boys.
Alternative view here:
www.charliebeckett.org

  • 310.
  • At 08:19 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • sable wrote:

I think the more interesting and significant point is what the hell is this voyeuristic, soap opera interest in what this fella is doing anyway?

Sure, people will want to know and read it, but so what? The same applies to Elvis Lives On The Moon reported in the lower end tabloids.

Why pursue it, BBC, why pursue it?

You, in particular, are supposed to be ethical (entertain, inform etc), so why even engage with this wrangling with the MOD?

Just accept its a goddamn no-go area for obvious reasosn, and move on.

  • 311.
  • At 11:03 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • trevor sharkey wrote:

the most disappointing thing about your insight is the admission that the media "had to think long and hard" about agreeing to the blackout! WHAT! just who the hell do you think you are? are you british? are you as an individual and (biased) agency not enjoying the benefits of a stable open democracy? and you had to think long and hard? the decision should have took you 10 seconds! what were the alternatives? exposing hundreds of british soldiers to danger and injury? well i suppose that would have given you something to fill your endlesslt tedious biased schedules. you are not fit to call yourself british!

  • 312.
  • At 11:42 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Jennifer wrote:

Thank you to the BBC for not reporting on this until the story leaked. Having the whole world know he was serving not only put him at increased risk, but also his entire regiment. I'm ashamed that a "reporter" from my country leaked this story, that had no real news value, and put people's lives at risk unneccessarily.

  • 313.
  • At 01:17 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Scott wrote:

As an American tired of sensationalist American media, this incident only underscores why I like British media so much. Doing the right thing at the expense of getting the story is commendable. I am ashamed, though not surprised, however, that the media site that caused the blackout to be lifted was American.

  • 314.
  • At 01:58 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Sarah wrote:

As an American I am extremely disappointed at the US media for reporting this story and risking so many lives. Kudos to the British Media!

"I am sick of the media dictating to me what I should be interested in, and what constitutes "news"."

But it's okay for you to dictate what news is and isn't?

  • 316.
  • At 02:33 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Ro wrote:

Wow. Well done BBC. You agree not to exploit Harry's tour of Afghanistan, but in return, you get to stage-direct and micromanage the coverage of his return. And all for the good of the reader, I suppose? All you are doing is perpetuating the image of an untrustworthy media, willing to misreport the truth for its own advantage. Your readers deserve better.


  • 317.
  • At 02:34 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

"there are no other "voluntary agreements" in place at the moment, there's nothing else we're not telling you."

Not strictly true though, is it? I understand there are at least a few open secrets (private lives of public figures, that sort of thing) that the media chooses not to report. Questionable whether reporting that stuff would be in the public interest, but no less so than the Harry thing.

NB: I have no problem at all with this, but let's not pretend that news outlets (the BBC included) don't have voluntary embargoes on other stories too.

  • 318.
  • At 03:31 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Martin wrote:

Wouldn't it be interesting to see if the people complaining about Prince Harry wanting to be a "normal" soldier were in fact the same ones calling for him to grow up and get a real job only a few years ago?

The Royal Family can't win either way, if they do ceremonial functions people whine that they don't have a real job, yet, if they get a real job people whine that there just pretending to do the job.

The British Media held out not because they wanted to keep the Royal Family happy but because they recognised the lives of our Armed Forces are worth more than a simple story.

As for the fact they had camera crews with him at least for some of his devlopment ... of course they did! Imagine the uproar if the BBC had come clean about the cover up and then announced we have no idea what he's been doing for 10 weeks!

That would have been a cover up!

Well done the BBC and thanks for reminding us that 24 News does not mean putting our Armed Forces in Danger.

Martin, Bradford

  • 319.
  • At 05:09 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Chor wrote:

I salute you BBC!
You are acting very responsibly

  • 320.
  • At 05:11 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Xandra wrote:

For those of you who think the BBC was wrong to enter into this agreement: shut up. You do NOT need to know what the royal family is doing every minute of every day. It's none of your business. Prince Harry served his country, and by all accounts served it well. That the media demonstrated such restraint is to their credit, given that, as Mr. Williams pointed out, other soldiers' lives would be at risk if the story had been tracked from Day One. If you have nothing better to do than stalk the royals, you need a different hobby. Just because the media kept silent about this does not mean that they are "in cahoots" with the government to conceal other information. The shame should be on Matt Drudge for not keeping his mouth shut. The BBC acted quite responsibly throughout this agreement and I applaude them for that restraint; it is remarkable among journalists today. I am sorry for Prince Harry that he was not able to complete his tour as he hoped. No soldier wants to train for something they'll never get to do, and I have no doubt that his tour gave him a new outlook on life in general, as my tour in Afghanistan gave me.

  • 321.
  • At 05:41 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Jason W wrote:

Not reporting on this was a 'no brainer' and I wouldn't expect any less from the BBC. It's more noteworthy that the rest of the UK's trash media have for once raised their standards and observed this.

  • 322.
  • At 05:42 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

Kudos to the Brits for keeping mum on your prince - thank you for giving him the chance to "win his spurs", as it were. I for one think (unlike some of the posters here) that the royals should not always be in a gilded cage, but rather be free to make a difference in society in whatever way they see fit. I also want to commend those of my fellow countrymen who, unlike Mr. Drudge, kept mum as well when they got wind of Prince Harry's whereabouts (at least I hope this is true).

It is important to keep people informed about things of significance (and I am not including celebrity quirks and peccadilloes), but there are higher values than getting the news out, and it the case of your Prince, the BBC got it right.

  • 323.
  • At 06:01 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Toners Bruxtin wrote:

A politically correct decision which reduces BBC credibility. It's news so publish it. The first casualty of war is the truth. Hiding the truth has the same effect as lying. The British media guided by the government has misled us all once again.

  • 324.
  • At 07:45 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Keith Brasier wrote:

Please can you tell me why it is necessary to have Harry as headline news all the time for the last few days. I am sick to death of Harry this Harry that, please change it.

  • 325.
  • At 08:04 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Tricia Wang wrote:

Well, whenever BBC wants to make a case for anything right or wrong, they can comeup with a "Standard Operating Procedure" and when somebody else says about reporting something, they are given the lesson of "Freedom of press".

  • 326.
  • At 08:50 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Jennie M wrote:

The Harry revelation is hardly devastating. Censorship exists whether we know it or not. All news has been edited and censored to a degree; even the gathering of it is selective. Nothing can ever be fully reported as there are always more than a handful of angles and factors to take into consideration. It’s just that we don’t like to be told this.

  • 327.
  • At 09:35 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Mihai Martoiu Ticu wrote:

What you actually tell us is that you lied to the world to help a guy make career?

  • 328.
  • At 10:05 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • EmmaStanford wrote:

Well Done Prince Harry! Finally the Press have given you a chance to be yourself.

Well Done British Press for respeting this mans privacy and right to have a life of his own, he may have been born into the Royal Family but is that his fault? I don't think so

To the MOD well done in managing to make an arrangement and sticking to it - I have already lost one friend in Iraq, you may have taken Prince Harry out of the front line but have you moved the other soldiers, the Taleban still know where they are - please move them to a safer place where their position has not been reported and where they can do their job and be in no more danger than before some idiot told the enemy where ou boys are.

To all the other solders on duty
Thank you x

  • 329.
  • At 10:07 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Gemma wrote:

To those posters who suggest this whole series of events has been in response to whims of a spoilt child, I ask what would you rather? Would the citizens of the UK prefer the character of potential future leaders be shaped by courageous actions working alongside young men not born into a similar life of privilege? Or by getting drunk, then falling out of nightclubs in the small hours of the morning, followed by a row with the paparazzi? Lets be honest - he hasn’t got much else to do, and lads will be lads.

People complain that since the Princes are so privileged they ought to accept that there is lots they cannot do. Whilst I am not a huge fan of Prince Harry, I have no doubt that the rigours and discipline of training and working in best armed forces in the world is a good influence. “Normal” careers were never a realistic option for these young men. It has been a situation where Harry and the MoD were “damned if they do and damned if they don’t” in respect of whether or not to deploy the Prince on the front line. It is admirable that the Prince wants to contribute; if more men his age felt the same way (rather than wanting to drink, fight, and modify their Corsas…) we would live in a better society.

Furthermore, the whole starting point of this debate seems wrong headed. The media don’t currently print (that I’m aware of!) a list of what activities what regiments are currently doing where in the world under other circumstances. The work Harry was doing should have fallen under the same rules.

And finally with regards to all the points around the mixing of journalism and politics, pandering to the establishment, corruption, violation of trust, broking deals to get a better news story etc - don’t be so childish and naïve. We are so far from a representative legislature interested in the functions of spending our tax revenue to the greatest social benefit and enforcing the laws that allow our society to function and a free, independent press interested solely in informing the general public of *actual* news in an entirely unbiased fashion. Any intelligent person know all this is nothing new. Humans are self interested, whether they are an estate agent (?!) or the head of a broadcasting corporation or government department. All this “I pay for you at the beeb, give me what I want” - if these people think they can make a difference, then they ought to stop paying taxes, licenses fees and go and live in a cave. Or choose the real world.

The common sense outcome of this debacle overridingly is: if your child was serving somewhere in the world just now you would want all that could be done to keep them even marginally safer to happen.

  • 330.
  • At 10:12 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • scp wrote:

I dont know what risk to harry the BBC is claiming?When you sign up for the army,when you fight bad guys it is the risk not only harry, but scores of other soldiers have already willingly accepted.While it is ironic the harry was willing to do his (mock)duty, BBC is not willing to do its own.Perhaps some men are more equal than others.Shame on you BBC!!.

  • 331.
  • At 10:32 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • John Davis wrote:

Could we have a news black out on Harry's ofensive use of the word 'Mong' in his interview?

  • 332.
  • At 10:40 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

The media spend all their time telling us what we should be interested in and when, regardless of how long information has been information to politicians, the military, themselves and people in general. The whole 'what are the media hiding from us now' situation doesn't wash with me and unlike some of the previous correspondents, I don't believe we have the right to know every little detail about every little person in public life no matter how famous they are.

I don't see the Prince Harry story as being any different, although I am amazed and proud that the British media managed to keep the blackout in place.

As for the man himself, I believe we should be proud of all our troops involvement, including Prince Harry. They decided they wanted to serve our country - full stop. If you don't agree they should be in Afghanistan (or Iraq for that matter) then vote for a different MP at the next election. The military do as the politicians tell them.

As a UK taxpayer, I would be extremely miffed if the Prince, having been put through Sandhurst at my expense, had not been allowed to serve on the front line. His royal status shouldn't entitle him to any special treatment in this regard, although I recognise that with the enemy having public knowledge that such a high ranking member of the Royal family was there, his life and the lives of the men he served with in Afghanistan was at risk.

I hope that if he needs to be redeployed that a similar situation arises in the future, the UK media organisations can make a similar agreement so that the Prince can do his duty without increasing the risk to our hard-working military personnel.

  • 333.
  • At 10:51 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

Well done to the British media. It's just a shame that the US media doesn't have the same morals when it comes to something that would impact other soldiers associated with Harry.

  • 334.
  • At 11:08 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Dale wrote:

It's refreshing to see that the British media (not necessarily the responsible BBC, but others as well) can accept when news ought not to break.

But why did it take 5 months of negotiations? Clearly the media outlets cannot just accept the situation and pretend it doesn't exist. They want full coverage, before, during, and after! It sounds almost like blackmail of the MoD.

Let me not detract, however, from what I think is a very responsible act. I am in no personal doubt that had the Taliban known, Harry would indeed have been targeted. It's amazing to think that he was patrolling the front line!

  • 335.
  • At 11:27 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Komani Lungu wrote:

Well done for keeping the secret as agreed with the MOD. I feel abit uneasy about the agreement itself. The issue should be to examine the underlying assumption of a free media. If we get that right we may not need the apology in this blog. With this agreement you can not say that there are no other agreements at present with anyone, the statement serves no purpose. I feel that freedom of the media does not preclude responsibility and in this case it acted responsibly. We should accepted that the media does not always tell us the truth and that sometimes over tells us one truth that overshadows other truths.

  • 336.
  • At 11:43 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Paul Sivyer wrote:

Well done the BBC and the rest of the British media! Congratulations on being so proffessional.
It's a shame that the USA media has let our troops down.
Prince Harry is an individual who should be allowed to do what he's been trained to do. I hope that he gets the opportunity to serve with his colleages, wherever that may be, sometime soon. Keep up the good work BBC!

  • 337.
  • At 11:49 AM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Ms Trentham wrote:

Well done to the British media for keeping quiet this long. The media should always think about the consiquences of its actions when reporting on famous people and not put lives in danger by what it reports- most of which would not be reported if the person was not famous. I think Prince Harry has behaved admirally and his behaviour has earnt him a lot of respect from me.

  • 338.
  • At 12:54 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Ernie wrote:

What I cant believe is that 311 people have written so much about so little. Where is this level of engagement about things that DO matter??

  • 339.
  • At 01:04 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • David Bradley wrote:

Excellent call. A fine example of responsible journalism while at the same timeallowing a member of the Royal family to fully relate to a world event and the challenges faced by the military. Other than for the "scoop" factor, why did American Matt Drudge feel compelled to interfere with a reasonable agreement worked out with the British media and military? The answer is clear...bad form.

  • 340.
  • At 01:05 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • dave wrote:

Harry needs a hair cut were is his boss to let him look like that and if my son is sent back to war can he have the SAS looking after him

  • 341.
  • At 01:14 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • rolando villones wrote:

I commend your good sense and restraint.Your example proves that there is still hope that media can still be responsible in its vocation to inform the public.It is sad commentary that the same cannot be said with "media" in general,even the so called mainstream media. It is good that because of the internet, even those who do not consider themselves vested with the vocation to informe the public can freely air their views on just anything.I take off my hat to you,guys at BBC!

  • 342.
  • At 03:41 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Jennie wrote:

I think it was wonderful that you all in the media world helped in this oppotunity to give Harry this chance.
As a member of her HM Forces I think it has been great that you all have been promoting "life in Iraq/Afghanistan" With the likes of Ross Kemp out there and giving the general public a chance to see what we do out there.

  • 343.
  • At 05:16 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Heather wrote:

Well done to the UK media!!!
I think you definitely did the right thing keeping this one quiet - it's hardly going to hurt us learning about it a couple of months later, is it? It must have been really nice for Harry to just be a normal lad for a while. If all that's needed to achieve that is a little delay on reporting, I don't see what the problem is!

  • 344.
  • At 05:39 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Dane Miller wrote:

While having not read all the above comments, it is quite amazing how many of them include the words 'for once the media has done the right thing...' or similar. Should that not tell the media how they are percieved by many people?

  • 345.
  • At 05:45 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Steve Dwyer wrote:

"Spot on", to coin a phrase not much used here in the other Boston, across the pond. Drudge should be pilloried for having written this expose'. Even if your Royal Harry were just doing an internship at a teaching job, his privacy should be respected. When it comes to putting people's lives even more at risk, there is even less excuse.

  • 346.
  • At 06:21 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • riddiford wrote:

You say you are not hiding anything else at this time

How do we know and why should we trust you?

Is not publishing The Balen Report some form of "common purpose".

  • 347.
  • At 08:11 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Dee wrote:


I agree that the Prince who the taxpayer schooled at Sandringham should have fought with other brave men and well done to the British media for having honoured their side of the bargain.

  • 348.
  • At 08:22 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Kim wrote:

Shame upon tose that leaked the story. They put not only Harry but all the other soldiers there at an increased risk. There is no excuse for that... it is not news and such a leak benifits no one but the enemy!!!

  • 349.
  • At 08:24 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • stuart bailey wrote:

Fantastic PR for the house of Windsor.

Give the House of Windsor, BBC, ITV, and the rest of the uk's media for bringing us the best PR story.

Prince Charles played a fantastic part when playing the lead role of the happy family meeting the war hero.

Now he's back from his 1o weeks tour of duty can you start reporting the inportant stuff. I suppose if he had'nt been there Prince harry would have been partying or proping up some bar in a club somewhere in the world.

  • 350.
  • At 10:03 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Olivia Ince wrote:

Very surprised the media all agreed to keep it a secret but very pleased. It's nice to see the British media not telling the world things that don't need to be known.
I am also very pleased Prince Harry was able to serve his country - it is his job after all. There would be no point in him going through all the training and then having it wasted with him sat at home and as he said 'twiddling his thumbs wondering about his regiment'.
I hope he manages to be deployed again should he wish to as, again, it is his job and what he is supposed to do as part of the armed forces. But, should he be deployed again, I hope it is kept as good a secret as this time around and not leaked by the foreign meda.

  • 351.
  • At 10:26 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • Marko wrote:

Presumably if there was no news blackout during the discussions and rationale leading up to sending troops to war, all of them would be safe as they wouldn't be out there fighting.

  • 352.
  • At 09:35 AM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • John Gammon wrote:

I can understand why we weren't told where Harry was, but how come we didn't know there was a news blackout on this story? How can we be sure - indeed how can Jon Williams be sure - that, as he puts it, "there's nothing else we aren't telling you"? Indeed, anyone who knows any "Fleet Street" journalists knows that there are some stories about prominent people which are common knowledge in the trade but for various reasons aren't offered up to the public.

  • 353.
  • At 10:27 AM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • Fiona wrote:

I think it's great that this story was covered for so long, well done to the BBC for keeping the secret. Safety for the soldiers comes above everything else in my opinion. But he should be deployed again, he's a soldier, he should be allowed to do his bit for his country.

  • 354.
  • At 10:59 AM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • sally wrote:

Prince Harrys deployment has no impact upon the governments Foreign Policy, only on the lives of his men.

I think it is a good thing that they let him deploy as it shows not only does he want to be taken seriously as a soldier but that he is capable of doing so.

as for the media blackout, do people really think that everything is reported to the public? or should be? That people even think that is laughable. The reason that we have MI,Police & Government is so that they can deal with sensitive issues for the benefit of the public. The very nature of sensitive material means it is unsuitable for everyone to be aware of it.

Imagine if the D day landings were made public, was it not in the best interests for them to be kept quiet?
Why is the welfare of our current soldiers less important?

Well done British Media and Thankyou Harry and all the people who are willing to put their lives at risk to serve the British nation.

  • 355.
  • At 01:49 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • M K wrote:

We all should be concerned with the media misnomer that the: [government has the right]. Governments have powers, people have rights.

We all should be disturbed by the media collusion with a government - 'not to report'

We all should be outraged by the media's rationale for collusion with a government - 'not to report' is OK because their ends justify their means.

'In a false quarrel there is no true valour. '
- William Shakespeare

  • 356.
  • At 02:01 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • Helen B wrote:

It makes me sad that Harry has had one of his life's ambitions taken away from him for the sake of a newspaper headline.

  • 357.
  • At 02:59 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

well done to the bbc and other uk news orgnisations for managing to keep a lid on the story for so long. I as a serving soldier am proud of having a monarchy that is willing to suffer with the rest of us.
Its just a shame that it couldnt last longer.

Will you lift the news blackout covering the fact that our country is being given away in parliament this week?

  • 359.
  • At 06:59 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • K G wrote:

Is it only me who finds the applause heaped upon the British media irritating? Where is the moral high ground that everyone is talking about? The press were given exclusive and unprecedented access to the prince in exchange for their silence. The altruism painted by many posts below is false and furthermore overly critical of overseas media. If the tables were turned and the UK press were not given the same privileged access received here, you can be certain that they would not remain silent either....not to mention the berating they would give to another country for withholding information from the public.

I also can't help but wonder if all these people stating that Harry has a right to privacy and a life like everyone else continue to buy the same UK papers and magazines which report what color socks he wore on Tuesday...

  • 360.
  • At 08:48 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • chris wrote:

Ironically, the fact that this stayed a secret for as long as it did (relatively speaking for the press) has redeemed the media to an extent in my eyes.

Prince Harry had the chance to be out there with his men, doing what he had trained to do. Just a pity that some idiots couldn't keep their mouths shut.

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