Prince Harry's naked Las Vegas jaunt in August takes on a bit of a different tone with the news on Friday that he's landed in Afghanistan to begin a deployment with the British army in Helmand province. The tabloid-baiting shenanigans of the newly minted Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner now appear to have been "a last drunken 'hurrah' with friends before his deployment," according to The Guardian's Nick Hopkins, and not just the latest embarrassment from England's prodigal son. Welcome to the new phase of taking Prince Harry seriously.
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For all the bad press that ill-fated Vegas trip netted him, Harry's new deployment seems designed to show him in a more responsible light. Unlike his last deployment in 2008, which was hidden from the media and got cut short after Matt Drudge splashed the news on his site, this one is open to media coverage, albeit with editors of some 800 news outlets agreeing not to write stories that compromise "operational security," Hopkins reported. That means there will be a lot of eyes on Harry for when he does serious, soldierly things. Of course, they will also be there if he acts the fool.
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Harry's been lobbying to return to Afghanistan since he was removed four years ago, saying of his helicopter training in April, "I'd just be taking up a spare place for somebody else if they didn't have me going out on the job," according to the BBC. If he acts up while deployed he's sure to be sent home, so both he and the royal family have a big stake in him straightening up and, er, flying right.